Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

  The Iraqi Maze

We keep turning corners in Iraq, but never find ourselves any nearer the exit from this maze. How many corners do there have to be, before you admit you're lost?

Yesterday, Mister Bush announced

A new Iraqi government represents a strategic opportunity for America -- and the whole world, for that matter. This nation of ours and our coalition partners are going to work with the new leadership to strengthen our mutual efforts to achieve success, a victory in this war on terror. This is a -- we believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens, and it's a new chapter in our partnership.

The Secretaries [Rice and Rumsfeld] began building this new partnership during their trip. In other words, the Iraqi leaders saw that we are committed to helping them succeed. They need to know that we stand with them. And the Iraqi people need to know that we stand with them...

I'd been under the impression, no doubt mistaken, that the U.S. had in fact been cooperating with earlier Iraqi governments. It will come as a surprise to many Americans that we have a "new partnership" with Iraq; like everything else the Bush administration has promised for that war-ravaged country, the "building" of it is just barely begun.

But that shock will be nothing compared to discovering that Mister Bush is still trying to convince the government and people of Iraq "that we stand with them". What are all those foreign troops doing in Iraq, then?

And when, by the way, are they leaving? The answer in tomorrow's Independent is nothing less than bewildering:

Iraqi forces are expected to become fully responsible for security in Iraq in two years, even though it could take up to a decade to curb militias, a senior British official has predicted.

"It is perfectly credible to think in a two-year timescale that we could get to a position where essentially the Iraqis are totally responsible for all the security in Iraq," the official said yesterday. But he added: "It could be longer, it could be quicker."...

"It is going to take a long time. I think it is a five- to ten-year timeframe before there are few armed groups with any influence," the official said.

In other words, that corner we just turned will lead to better things in two years, or perhaps five, or ten, years. At that time, whenever it is, there will exist only a "few armed groups with any influence". Regrettably, the anonymous official did not say whether the "few armed groups" are expected to include the Iraqi army.


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