Four days prior to the constitutional referendum in Iraq, bomb attacks killed almost 30 Iraqi civilians in Tal Afar and Baghdad. I'm afraid we'll see a lot more of this, leading up to and after the referendum.
According to a story in the LA Times, "analysts" now think democracy won't be the miracle cure for Iraq that the Bush administration has cracked it up to be.
Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.
The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq, as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.
But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.
Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.
I don't know why it took "analysts with access to classified intelligence" to figure this one out. The most casual observers of the situation in Iraq have been aware of the increase in violent attacks as the country has marched toward establishing a constitutional government. That "Senior U.S. officials" have just now begun to question a presumption of the Iraq strategy that many of us questioned three years ago would be amusing if it weren't so deadly serious.
The Iraq adventure was a card house of faulty assumptions from the get-go. The Iraqis would greet us as liberators. Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress in exile would step in and form a U.S. friendly government. Iraqi oil would pay for the U.S. war costs.
I'm still hopeful that democracy will in fact take hold in the Middle East. But it will be an ugly form of democracy. Election victories in Palestine and Lebanon by Hamas and Hezbollah have transformed terrorist organizations into legitimate political parties. So it's likely that terrorism will be to Middle East democracy what Al Capone era organized crime in America is to the George W. Bush administration.
I just watched a replay of Matt Lauer's interview with Mister Bush. At the end of it, Matt tells Mister B. to "get back to work," and Mister B. leans over and picks up a hammer.
Off camera, I picture a foreman saying, "Uh, sir, you're supposed to hold the hammer by the wood part and hit the nail with the metal part."
Driving nails is hard work!