16 September 2003

Seeking Honesty in US Policy

The U.S. army's top general at the time, Eric Shinseki, meanwhile, questioned the cakewalk scenario. He told Congress that we would need several hundred thousand soldiers in Iraq to put an end to the violence against our troops and against each other. His testimony was quickly repudiated by both Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.

As we now know, he was close to the mark. Our 130,000 soldiers are failing to stem the violence. Even as Rumsfeld says jauntily that all is going well, Secretary of State Colin Powell is running to the United Nations to try to get more foreign boots on the ground. One of the administration's staunchest supporters, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, says ominously that we risk strategic failure if we don't send reinforcements.

And the infighting that Middle East experts feared could still erupt. The majority Shiite Muslim population, brutalized during Saddam's rule, is content with a tactical truce with our forces so long as they are free to consolidate their control and the United States continues to kill Sunni Muslims so that they don't have to. That truce is threatened not only by Shiite political ambition but also by ongoing skirmishes with the Sunnis.

The recent car bomb at the An-Najaf mosque that killed one of Shiite Islam's most influential clerics and head of the largest Shiite party in Iraq almost resulted in the outbreak of civil war between the two groups. Widespread belief that Sunni elements were behind the assassination and that the United States failed in its responsibilities for security has brought Shiite armed militias back onto the streets, actively seeking to avenge the death of their leader. Such a war within a war would make our occupation infinitely more dangerous.

Some now argue that the president's speech Sunday represents a change of course. Even if the administration won't admit it made any mistakes, the mere call for international involvement should be enough to persuade the world to accept the burden of assisting us, as we continue to control both the military and the economic reconstruction.

That may well be true, but we cannot count on the international community to do our bidding blindly. While the administration scurries back to the United Nations for help, our historic friends and allies still smart from the gratuitous insults hurled at them nine months ago. This is the same United Nations which Richard Perle, a not-so-invisible hand behind the war, recently called an ``abject failure.''

Go read the whole thing, especially that Wilson thought there must be a second uranium-exporting nation in Africa because he knew he'd disproved the Niger allegation.

Between the collapsing war claims and diplomatic ineptitude the whole Iraq adventure is looking grim.

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