For all of you wondering where I've been this past month or so, just go over to Non Sum Dignus to catch up. I'm going to try real hard to get back to doing the foreign policy stuff here and the domestic politics over to NSD again. My new job doesn't leave me a lot of time to do both blogs and on top of that I've started a new blog at democraticunderground.com that is taking even more attention away from this page.
In any case, there is a whole lot of stuff going on in the world these days, and W. & co. have a full plate of disasters to try and juggle. Here's where we see whether they can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Iraq seems to have been knocked right off the front page as news of North Korea's missile launches have been dominating the news cycle since the 4th of July. Have no fear, though, if you haven't been paying attention things are still as bloody and aweful as ever over there. On the 5th the NYT reported that the central morgue in Baghdad has recieved 1,595 bodies over the past month, a 16% rise from May.
Remember, this comes a month after the US killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Whatever disruption his death may have caused al-Qaeda it appears they've pretty much worked it out. Even US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had to admit that "in terms of violence, it [Zarqawi's death] has not had any impact at this point. As you know, the level of violence is still quite high."
Not to say that all these deaths are attributable to al-Qaeda, most of them appear to be the result of Iraq's raging sectarian civil war (remember that?). Sabrina Tavernese writes in the Times that, "Baghdad, home to one-forth of Iraq's population, has slowly decended into a low-grade civil war in some neighborhoods, with Sunni and Shiite militias carrying out systematic sectarian killings that clear whole city blocks." In fact, last month as the Iraqi government was launching its "crack down"in Baghdad, two militias fought a running battle in the heart of the city on Haifa Street right under the noses of US and Iraqi forces. There's an all out battle for control of Baghdad and we're not invited. This is between the various Shiite factions and the Sunnis.
And in realilty; though the administration would like to have a Pentagon approved al-Qaeda boggyman to focus everyone's attention on for the propaganda department's flashy war on terror's most wanted sound-bites; al-Qaeda is no match in the massacre business for the tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen who kill Sunnis like no body's business. This administration has been insisting from the begining that we had to invade Iraq as a response to 9/11, but the fact is that the groups most responsible for the choas in Iraq are the Shiites, our allies.
While W. & co. are trying to convince us that if we don't fight them over there we'll have to fight them here, the Iraqi government is more concerned with settling old scores. Our partners in the war on terror think Saddam's daughters (he's clean out of sons) are a bigger threat to Iraq than al-Qaeda is. On their "most wanted list" the top spots are reserved for former Baathists (Sunnis), while al-Qaeda's new "leader," Hamza al-Muhajer (if he even really exists), only comes in at #30 out of 41. The Shiite government and their militias are the real problem, but we can't fit losing hundreds more US troops to deal with them into the war on terror narrative.
The great irony here is that we're fighting the wrong people. When we do leave Iraq, we're going to wind up making the same insurgents who are killing about one Marine a day in Anbar province our newest, best buddies. Except for the small group of Takfiris, who are mainly foreigners, the Iraqi Sunnis are basically secular in outlook, and most importantly, they hate the Iranians.
This "democratic" government we've created in Iraq takes its religious lead from Tehran and the vacuum left behind by our departure is going to be filled by Iran. In that case we'll need to hire the Sunni insurgents to make sure Iraq remains unstable and creates the same albatross around their necks as it has been around ours.
The truth is that Baghdad is totally griped by anarchy: The violence is even moving into sections of the city that up until now have been relativly safe like the Mansour district, where all the big shots live. (Ahmad Chilabi has had two of his cars blown up, so you know things are getting bad.) The insurgency is moving ever closer to the Green Zone and it appears they'll have it completly surrounded sooner rather than later.
And Iraqi citizens who work in the Green Zone report that they're finding it more and more dangerous to keep working there, a secret State Department memo says. Taken all together, one can't but come to the conclusion that what has been up until now a country teetering on the brink of total collapse, held together only by the sheer will and might of the US military, has reached its tipping point and is rapidly approachng the point of no return. Unless we're willing to send in about 100,000 more troops, which we are not, the whole thing is going to hell.