Friday, October 20, 2006

Iraq II: Through The Looking Glass to Baghdad

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
-- Alice in "Alice in Wonderland"
There is an Alice in Wonderland-like quality to the U.S.'s Iraq policy these days.

In two major developments this week:
* The White House announced that it would reject out of hand any recommendations made by the Iraq Study Group that it didn't like.

This is inane.

* The U.S. Command acknowledged that the much-vaunted second security sweep of Baghdad had been a bloody failure.

This is tragic.
What is so inane about the Iraq Study Group announcement is that this august group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker, could provide The Decider with some badly needed cover, which is exactly what Congress wanted to do when it mandated the project last spring.
Among the options that the ISG has been weighing for ending the bloodletting are a sectarian partition of Iraq and a phased troop withdrawal timetable. The White House says it will consider neither, casting aside two good options and leaving only bad ones.
What is so tragic about the acknowledgement that the latest security sweep had had the opposite of its intended effect -- an increase in violence and U.S. troop fatalities -- is that it had no chance of succeeding in the first place.
As I noted with spot-on accuracy back in August when the sweep was announced, it was bound to fail because there were not enough troops, they were not trained to fight insurgents, their presence would further destabilize the capital and would drain precious resources away from outlying areas that hung in the balance.
Sharp-earred listeners will note that while The Decider continues to splutter on about "victory" and "staying the course," conspicious in its absence of late has been any mention of establishing a democracy in Iraq.

The president has painted himself into such a tight corner that the one option that could conceivably turn things around in Iraq -- sending in thousands more troops -- would be political suicide for a Republican Party already in dire straits.

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