September 3, 2006

Away From Bush's Reality, Iraq is Slipping into Civil War

"Nations don't declare civil war, they slip into it." One of my professors said this to our class last year. As I am listening to and reading about the news in Iraq, I cannot help but think about this ominous statement. It is a frightening thing to wonder how much worse the situation in Iraq could get. A full fledged civil war would simply be the straw that broke the camel's back, that is, if it's not already broken. And while all signs point in this direction, the Bush administration continues to maintain that "progress" has been made, that we must "not relent", and we cannot "let the terrorists win." Well, Mr. President, let us distinguish reality from rhetoric.
"If America were to pull out before Iraq can defend itself, the consequences would be absolutely predictable — and absolutely disastrous," Mr. Bush said. "We would be handing Iraq over to our worst enemies."
Mr. Bush said Saddam sympathizers, armed groups backed by Iran and al Qaeda terrorists from across the world would use Iraq as a base of operation.
"They would have a new sanctuary to recruit and train terrorists at the heart of the Middle East, with huge oil riches to fund their ambitions," the president said. "And we know exactly where those ambitions lead. If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities."
Does it seem too naive to wonder who brought those terrorists into Iraq? Is it stupid to ask who instigated the "fight in the streets of Baghadad" in the first place? Is it wrong to ask, Mr. Bush, why were brought into this mess on the basis of a lie?!

This is what a new Pentagon report says about your "progress" in Iraq:
Iraqi casualties soared by more than 50 percent in recent months, the product of spiraling sectarian clashes and a Sunni-based insurgency that remains “potent and viable,” the Pentagon said in its latest comprehensive assessment of security in Iraq.
Since the establishment of the new Iraqi government on May 20th, the average number of weekly attacks has increased to 800. As a result of these attacks, Iraqi casualties have increased more than 51 percent. According to the report,
Iraqi casualties among civilians and security forces reached nearly 120 a day, up from about 80 a day in the pervious reporting period from mid-February to mid-May. About two years ago they were running about 30 a day.
No, these are not just statistics. These are fathers, sons, mothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles. They are human beings now being tallied like insects by the US War Ministry. But wait, there's more! As the New York Times reports, the targets of the attacks has also changed:
“Although the overall number of attacks increased in all categories, the proportion of those attacks directed against civilians increased substantially,” the Pentagon noted. “Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife, with Sunni and Shia extremists each portraying themselves as the defenders of their respective sectarian groups.”
Iraqis are increasingly pessimistic about the future of their country, despite the report's findings that there "technically" isn't a civil war yet.

The report notes that sectarian violence is gradually expanding north to Kirkuk and Diyala Province. Further, the confidence of Iraqis in the future has diminished, according to public opinion surveys cited in the Pentagon report.

Still, the study says the fighting in Iraq does not meet the “stringent international legal standards for civil war,” without further explanation. Even so, the sectarian fighting has been bloodier than ever.

Meanwhile in D.C., Washington Post op-ed columnist George Will talks to Republican Senator Warner about the prospects of civil war in Iraq. While the senator insists that "the essential characteristics of civil war are not yet present in Iraq," he also recognizes huge obstacles to preventing the country from slipping into it.
But Warner also knows: The Iraqi government's writ runs barely beyond Baghdad's Green Zone. The security forces are not yet competent to hold areas that U.S. forces clear of insurgents. Holding such areas might require sending more U.S. forces to Iraq, which would further alienate Iraqis. Moqtada al-Sadr, whose support helped make Nouri al-Maliki Iraq's prime minister, has a militia that is becoming Iraq's Hezbollah -- a sovereign force within the state, and one imperfectly controlled by Sadr.
Not too far from Warner, President Bush is on a speech campaign aimed at spewing more propaganda about "fascists", "Nazis", and the perils of giving up on Iraq in advance of the November elections. The president continues to preach to his "base" while most Americans are simply not buying the rhetoric. Three major polls have shown an all-time high in opposition to the war in Iraq.
A new Associated Press/Ipsos poll that surveyed the country [...] showed that 60 percent of Americans believe that the war in Iraq has increased the chances of a terrorist attack in the US. But in another sign of trouble for the Bush administration, the AP/Ipsos poll also shows that more Americans believe the Democrats will do a better job [in protecting the US] than Republicans, 47-40 percent.
The same poll also shows that 43% of Americans are embarssed by the US image overseas. A CNN poll indicates that 61% of Americans are opposed to the war in Iraq. The poll also indicates what the American public thinks of their leader:
Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence.
While President Bush continues to link the war in Iraq to the War on Terror, most Americans feel that invading Iraq has increased the likelihood of the US being attacked again.
Not everyone agrees the war in Iraq is central to the war on terror, as the Bush administration maintains. Six in 10 polled think there will be more terrorism in this country because the U.S. went to war in Iraq. Some feel strongly that the two wars are separate.
Throughout all this, the president is still able to keep his sense of humor:
On Wednesday, Bush maintained that his series of speeches, which will culminate in an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19, are not political.
Yale Shmale, indeed.

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