In the Arena

Iraq’s Idea? Yeah, Right.

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I know I’ve been flogging the idea that the escalation is not an Iraqi idea, but this from the incredible John Burns and Sabrina Tavernise pretty much confirms it.
The most dubious aspect of all this is the notion–floated by Secretary of Defense Gates in testimony yesterday–that Baghdad can be pacified and American troops withdrawn from the neighborhoods by August. Ask any counterinsurgency expert and he will tell you that it will take years–and a trustworthy Iraqi government–to change the culture of the neighborhoods. (Baghdadis need to be able to trust the local police enough to tell them where the bad guys are.)
So why this fiction? To assuage U.S. public opinion, natch–a futile effort, since the public and the Congress have turned against the war. But also to assuage Maliki, who is still hoping that the Americans will pull out soon and his Shi’ite pals like Muqtada al-Sadr can complete the ethnic cleansing of the local Sunnis. Is it possible that Bush looked into Maliki’s soul during that 1 hour 45 minute teleconference last week and was snookered into believing that Nouri really wanted to wipe out the Mahdi Army, his prime source of support?
This dual escalation–in Iraq and, especially, against Iran–is the most reckless thing I’ve ever seen an American President do. God help us.