If George W. Bush is an Evangelical Christian, and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is a Shiite Muslim, and the Dali Lama is a Buddhist, and the Pope is a Catholic, and bears go potty in the woods, Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, and has been for some time.
The only argument for keeping our troops in Iraq that has had any resonance with me is the one that says we owe something to the Iraqi people. It's Colin Powell's dopey Pottery Barn allegory. We broke it; we own it. That had a certain justifiable logic back when we were being told that hordes of foreign terrorist recruits were flooding into Iraq to block the forming of a new, popularly elected government. Then we learned that foreign fighters made up a small fraction of the insurgency, perhaps as little as two percent. Now we see that the strife in Iraq is almost solely between its two main internal factions, Sunnis and Shiites.
So there's no longer a valid view that says we're conducting a counterinsurgency operation. We're walking the fine line between peacekeeping and peace enforcement.
In practical terms, peace enforcement is the more militarily aggressive type of operation, as it involves "taking a side" and applying combat force to defend one faction from the other. Peacekeeping forces act as a buffer between opposing factions, but typically tend to "pick sides" when it becomes necessary to defend themselves, at which point they're no longer "keeping" peace, they're enforcing it.
But regardless of how we define military peace operations, they seldom go well. Ronald Reagan's Lebanon incursion and Bill Clinton's Somalia experiment are two prime examples of the fallacy of America's ability to establish peace through use of military force.
I've said for many years that when our military's mission grinds down to "drill about smartly and defend yourself," it's time to get the troops the hell out of wherever they are.
It's clear that our offensive sweeps of insurgent strongholds haven't had a lasting impact. We're not protecting Iraqi civilians, we're not creating an effective Iraqi security force, and we're not empowering Iraq's new government.
Aside from providing bad guys with targets, just what are our troops accomplishing in Iraq?
I just ran across this Knight Ridder article.
CIA officers in Iraq are warning that the country may be on a path to civil war, current and former U.S. officials said Wednesday, starkly contradicting the upbeat assessment that President Bush gave in his State of the Union address.
Bush, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, insisted that an insurgency against the U.S. occupation, conducted primarily by minority Sunni Muslims who enjoyed power under Saddam Hussein, "will fail, and the Iraqi people will live in freedom."
"Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their own security and their own future," the president said.
The article was published in January 2004.
On Wolf Blitzer's show this morning, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley denies Iraq is in a civil war. Hadley must not have access to a dictionary either, or two year old newspapers.
Wolf shows him graphics that show there are presently zero combat capable Iraqi units. Hadley says those statistics don't count. He says training Iraqi troops will take "months and years."
Seems like we heard that kind of talk months and years ago.
Will we be hearing it months and years from now?
Get It, Don't Get It, Don't Got It
Later on Wolf, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California) says the last thing we want to do is to get caught up in the middle of a civil war. When are these people going to realize that we already are?
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) says we can't allow the civil unrest in Iraq to spread throughout the Middle East. If we can't stop civil unrest from spreading throughout Iraq, how does she imagine we'll stop it from spreading through the Middle East?
And what did I tell you about the neocons abandoning ship? Think Progress covers PNAC founder Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday this morning blaming everything on Rumsfeld. The War hasn't been a "serious effort," Kristol says.
Kristol is one of many neoconservatives making a serious effort to dodge blame for the foreign policy disaster he played a key role in creating.
TP also covers George Will on ABC's This Week.
George Stephanopoulus: What does a civil war look like?
George Will: This. This is a civil war.
You'd think that if George Will could get it, everybody could.
Wolf asks Iraqi national Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie how long before Iraq's government stands up. Al-Rubaie says he thinks it will take a couple months.
How many elections have they held, and they still don't have a government?
Reuters reports that two more U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb in Baghdad last night.
How much longer will we have to watch these reruns?