The US appears to being pulled deeper into the malestrom of Iraq, all the while our leader utters 'Polonius' sounding statements..
President Bush said Friday that 'the flare-up' in violence in oil-rich southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad presents "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq" as the government there seeks to root out Shiite militias.
Bush made clear that the United States stands firmly behind Iraqi security forces and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "He made the decision to move and we'll help him," the president said.
"It's going to take awhile, but it's a necessary part of the development of a free society," Bush said at a White House news conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. At the same time, the president said the situation in Iraq remains "dangerous and fragile."
Juan Cole via 'the Times of Baghdad' describes a slightly different picture of Bush's upteenth defining moment for Iraq since the invasion...
Clashes continued on Friday between Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army in Baghdad and the provinces of the middle Euphrates and the south, causing hundreds of casualties, including among women, children and the elderly. The fighting also did damage to Iraq's infrastructure, as well as to oil facilities and pipelines, damage that might run into the billions of dollars.
The US got drawn into the fighting on Friday. US planes bombed alleged Mahdi Army positions both in Basra and in Sadr City in Baghdad (as well as in Kadhimiya). Kadhimiya is a major Shiite shrine neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, and the spectacle of the US bombing it is very unlikely to win Washington any friends among Iraqi Shiites.
Despite the US intervention, government troops were unable to pierce Mahdi Army defenses or over-run their positions.
Al-Zaman says that the police force in Basra suffered numerous mutinies and instances of insubordination, with policemen refusing to fire on the Mahdi Army. The government response was to undertake a widespread purge of disloyal elements.
[Hmm. I wonder where fired policemen with combat training and guns could find another job . . . Maybe with the Mahdi Army?]
"It's going to take awhile, but it's a necessary part of the development of a free society."
It looks like this a necessary part of turning a once stable Iraq (admittedly under the tyrant Saddam) into a feudal theocratic society ruled by various mullahs and warlords, most of them funded at taxpayers' expense, because this is a 'necessary' war to keep America safe from terrorism.
Thus far, this ineffective to disastrous attempt to confront the stronger and more dedicated Madhi army with the larger but weaker Maliki security government forces, which we have been training assiduously for the last several years, defines the incoherence of Bush's (and McCain's foreign 1999 policy objective); that before we try to roll back rogue regimes at great cost, we must have some understanding of what the realistic alternative will be, and how as a nation whose policies are loathed in that part of the world, we could ever achieve that, with the Bush-Cheney neocon administration. Otherwise, it is sheer delusion du grandeur/megalomania that becomes folie du grandeur. And unlike Wall Street and the subprime crisis there is no further government 'big brother' resource to backstop the losses or bail us out of Iraq, from the no-win we have put ourselves in.
Update: Kevin Drum has been thinking along these lines and has a thread entitled 'Our Idiot in Chief'. "Is there another person on the planet who would be either delusional enough or ballsy enough to describe Maliki's actions in Basra as "evenhanded"?..I don't know is there?
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