The Washington Post is reporting that last November CIA Director Hayden painted a bleak picture of the dysfunctional Iraqi government:
Later that morning, around the same conference table, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden painted a starkly different picture for members of the study group. Hayden said "the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," according to written records of his briefing and the recollections of six participants.
"The government is unable to govern," Hayden concluded. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function."
Later in the interview, he qualified the statement somewhat: "A government that can govern, sustain and defend itself is not achievable," he said, "in the short term."
National security adviser Stephen Hadley echoed Hayden's observations:
Five days before his testimony, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley had written a memo to Bush raising doubts about Maliki's ability to curb violence in Iraq, but his assessment was not as bleak as Hayden's.
"The levers of power are not connected to anything," he said, adding: "We have placed all of our energies in creating the center, and the center cannot accomplish anything."
So here we have both the CIA director and national security adviser agreeing on the dysfunctional nature of the Iraqi government more than 8 months ago. What's more Hadley did not see Al Qaeda as the biggest threat in Iraq in contrast to recent rhetoric coming from the President:
Hayden catalogued what he saw as the main sources of violence in this order: the insurgency, sectarian strife, criminality, general anarchy and, lastly, al-Qaeda. Though Hayden had listed al-Qaeda as the fifth most pressing threat in Iraq, Bush regularly lists al-Qaeda first.
Of course, Hadley was and is right about the threat that Al Qaeda poses in Iraq and the President is dead wrong.
Even more maddening, a CIA official asserted that the Iraqi government bears a large measure of responsibility for the violence in Iraq:
But the government itself was responsible for some of that violence, the CIA official said. "The Ministry of Interior is uniformed death squads, overseers of jails and torture facilities," he said. "Their funds are constantly misappropriated."
It's a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts when they are viewed as a predatory element," he said. "Strengthening Iraqi security forces is not unalloyed good. Without qualification, this judgment applies to the police."
So here we have a President who was told in no uncertain terms 8 months ago by his top advisers that the Iraqi government was dysfunctional and incompetent, and yet he still ordered an escalation in US forces that has cost us 600 dead and several thousand wounded. In the meantime, the Iraqi government has failed to make any substantial progress on the political reconciliation that our generals say is absolutely necessary to bring stability to Iraq. 600 more dead with nothing to show for it.
And come this September, the President is going to ask that we should support the sacrifice of still more of our troops in spite of the fact that the Iraqi government still has made no progress at political reconciliation. I have no doubt the only reason he is doing so is because he lacks the courage to admit that he made a mistake in Iraq and reverse course.
At his core, George W Bush is a gutless, soulless individual who is placing his own ego above the interests of our country. His argument that by withdrawing we would "turn Iraq over to Al Qaeda" is a perfectly ludicrous bald-faced lie and he knows it. Al Qaeda has little presence in Kurdistan and the Shiite areas in the south. The Sunni tribes have turned on them in Anbar and have pressed them into a corner. They represent a deadly and vicious element of Iraq's multi-faceted civil war but they are by no means among the biggest problems Iraq faces. Their threat pales in comparison to the danger posed by the large and well-armed Shiite militias that have deeply intertwined themselves in the machinery of the Iraqi government.
Once we leave Iraq, the magnet of our presence drawing jihadists from throughout the Arab world will be extinguished. The Kurdish peshmerga, Shiite militias and Sunnis tribes will stamp out the remnants of Al Qaeda as they begin to turn their swords against each other and rip the country apart. Not one more US soldier should be sacrificed to forestall this eventuality. We should stop deluding ourselves that the Iraqi politicians are going to get their act together anytime soon. The Shiites and Kurds have no incentive to give anything back to the Sunnis in terms of power and there's no way we can force them. They are going to continue to strengthen their hand, exact revenge on the Sunnis and establish their own independent states. It's time for George W Bush to recognize the reality that was explained to him 8 months ago and stop sending more of our boys to die in this quagmire of a failed state previously known as the Republic of Iraq.
Enough is enough. Bush's war in Iraq hasn't made us any safer in the world; in fact, it has had the direct opposite effect. He needs to recognize the failure of his grand initiative to reshape the Middle East, and begin the process of bringing our involvement in Iraq to a close. If he fails to do that, we the people should begin the process of bringing his Presidency to a close by demanding that he be impeached and thrown out of office.
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