Things are really running off the rails in Iraq. While Condi is running around the Middle East [NYT] trying to get Arab countries to help us overturn a free and fair election in Palestine, and not having any success, the democratic miracle in Mess-o-patomia is rapidly turning into a nightmare of monumental proportions. Yesterday, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra was leveled by, as yet unknown, attackers. Being one of the holiest sites for the Shiites, chaos quickly ensued, leading to a saturnalia of bloodshed and destruction that has cost more than 111 Iraqi deaths and the torching of maybe 100 Sunni mosques. Iraqi security forces are reported to be just standing around while Shiites kill Sunni clerics and generally wreck havoc. (They're supossed to be standing up so we can stand down, not just standing around!)
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said ominously, "If the government security forces cannot provide the necessary protection, the believers will do it." I think what he means is the Badr brigade and other Shiite militias will do it. Of course, this blows the administration's plans for an early exit right out of the water. If this situation continues to spin out control, though, I would say our position in Iraq will become pretty much untenable PDQ. (Why do I have that picture of the Huey on top of the U.S. embassy in Saigon?) Zalmay Khalilzad's veiled threat to cut off US aid if Iraq's various sectarian groups couldn't form a national unity government seems just slightly irrelevant now. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Sciri, as usual, blamed us for this whole mess. He said, "This declaration gave a green light for these groups to do their operation, so he is responsible for a part of that."
Of course, he's sort of right; we're supposedly there to provide stability so the Iraqis can rebuild, but it doesn't look like we're having much luck in that department, lately. Again, I have to ask, what are we doing there? Besides providing great targets for insurgents and every other whacko out there who hates America, I don't see why we're still spilling American blood for these medieval maniacs. Even if peace and love reigned in Baghdad, we still would have created a democratically elected Shiite theocracy whose leaders think Iran is too liberal.
Aelius Gallus is probably having a good laugh, but no one else is. But let’s not dwell on Iraq; let's talk about our addiction to oil and the wonders of switch grass.