Iraq: The Uncivil Civil War That Wasn't A Civil War genre: Just Jihad

House of cards

While the GOP tries to make hay with the blundered John Kerry remarks, the war in Iraq remains a disaster and a new assessment by the United States Central Command suggests that the sectarian violence has the nation on the precipice of chaos...what I would call a code word for civil war. I find it interesting that the Bush administration wants to focus on the words of a Senator on the campaign trail in California while virtually every intelligent observer believes that the "stay the course" effort in Iraq is putting our troops in harms way.

If the President is actually concerned for our troops, why doesn't he admit his administration's mistakes and focus his energy on crafting a new war strategy rather than a new political strategy...but that would require him to be less concerned with political power and more concerned with protecting our troops...troops he enjoys waving around like a cheap campaign sign when he thinks that will win him votes...the same troops that died in near record numbers in October in a war the President declared we had won more than two years ago.

A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18 briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the military command that oversees the war is trying to track its trajectory, particularly in terms of sectarian fighting.

The slide includes a color-coded bar chart that is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil Conflict." It shows a sharp escalation in sectarian violence since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and tracks a further worsening this month despite a concerted American push to tamp down the violence in Baghdad.

In fashioning the index, the military is weighing factors like the ineffectual Iraqi police and the dwindling influence of moderate religious and political figures, rather than more traditional military measures such as the enemy’s fighting strength and the control of territory.

The conclusions the Central Command has drawn from these trends are not encouraging, according to a copy of the slide that was obtained by The New York Times. The slide shows Iraq as moving sharply away from “peace," an ideal on the far left side of the chart, to a point much closer to the right side of the spectrum, a red zone marked “chaos." As depicted in the command’s chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.

One significant factor in the military’s decision to move the scale toward “chaos" was the expanding activity by militias.

Another reason was the limitations of Iraqi government security forces, which despite years of training and equipping by the United States, are either ineffective or, in some cases, infiltrated by the very militias they are supposed to be combating. The slide notes that “ineffectual" Iraqi police forces have been a significant problem, and cites as a concern sectarian conflicts between Iraqi security forces.

Other significant factors are in the political realm. The slide notes that Iraq’s political and religious leaders have lost some of their moderating influence over their constituents or adherents.

While I appreciate the effort of Central Command, it seems that they are well behind the American public in concluding that the country is in the midst of a civil war. I'm reminded of an expression in sports that is used to demonstrate how losing teams attempt to rationalize their losses..."statistics are for losers". Let me be clear. I realize that Central Command is simply providing the reports they are being asked to prepare and I don't mean to blame them for doing their job. On the other hand, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocon alliance warrant significant blame and at some point they have an obligation to put a halt to this charade intended to cast the conflict in its best light.

Perhaps the report being prepared by James Baker and the Iraq Study Group will provide the administration with the necessary assessments to alter this failed war effort and begin addressing the realities in the region in a way that no longer makes our troops the victims of partisan politics. It is noteworthy to point out that the Baker report will not be released until after the election. If we're looking out for the troops, why is this report subject to political calculations?

Pardon my cynicism but the outrage at Senator Kerry's remarks are nothing more than lip service so long as this administration continues to drag its feet in finding solutions that will either allow our troops to succeed in their mission or alter the mission in order to achieve success without needlessly sacrificing our troops.

Daniel DiRito | November 1, 2006 | 8:14 AM
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