Few commentators on the current scene are as astute and truth-telling as the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. Her straight-forward reading published Saturday of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate contrasts mightily with the Bush Administration’s cherry-picking of that same document to suit its own purposes.
Putting to rest the issue of whether the conflict in Iraq constitutes ‘civil war,’ she quotes this year's Estimate: “The Intelligence Community judges that the term ‘civil war’ does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent attacks on coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence.” Defense Sec’y Robert Gates, successor to the prevaricating Donald Rumsfeld, admits that there are in effect four different wars going on in Iraq now and has been seconded by Nat’l Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Wow, there you have it authoritatively: not one but a bunch of civil wars.
While the Administration insists on saying we’re making progress in Iraq and will make more if we just send a ‘surge’ of troops, Dowd counters that ”three sulfurous possibilities loom: chaos leading to partition, the emergence of a Shiite strongman, or anarchy ‘mixing extreme ethnosectarian violence with debilitating intragroup clashes.’ “ A trio of Hobson's choices -- such are the results of the Bush Administration's incompetence in starting and conducting this war.
Meantime, polls show that over 70% of Iraqis want us gone, and the Iraqi gov’t is continually protesting our ham-fisted approach to limiting its autonomy. At the same time, Iraqis -- esp Shiites -- are blaming us for failing to protect them as they war against their brethren. Our very efforts to strengthen Iraq appear to be a major factor in weakening it by fomenting continued violence.
As Maureen Dowd rightly concludes: “It’s official. We’re in a cycle of violence so complex and awful that withdrawing American troops will make it worse and keeping American troops there may also make it worse. We can try or we can leave, but either way, it seems, we’re cooked.”