WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is laying the groundwork to extend the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq. At the same time, the administration is warning Iraqi leaders that the boost in forces could be reversed if political reconciliation is not evident by summer.The first step toward building a politcal solution would be to work with powerful coalitions like that of Moqtada al-Sadr to help bring consensus into how Iraq will be governed. Unfotunately that cat is long out of the bag...
This approach underscores the central difficulty facing President Bush. If political progress is not possible in the relatively short term, then the justification for sending thousands more U.S. troops to Baghdad — and accepting the rising U.S. combat death toll that has resulted — will disappear. That in turn would put even more pressure on Bush to yield to the Democratic-led push to wind down the war in coming months.
If the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does manage to achieve the political milestones demanded by Washington, then the U.S. military probably will be told to sustain the troop buildup much longer than originally foreseen — possibly well into 2008. Thus the early planning for keeping it up beyond late summer.
"Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr pulled his six ministers out of Iraq’s beleaguered coalition government on Monday as he pushed his demand for a rapid withdrawal of US troops from the country." Prime Minister Maliki’s government is expected to survive.
Unfortunately, survival of the government is not enough. As Harry Reid has pointed out the the War is already lost.
The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.
"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.
Reid said he had delivered the same message to US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, when the US president met with senior lawmakers to discuss how to end a standoff over an emergency war funding bill.
"I know I was the odd guy out at the White House, but I told him at least what he needed to hear ... I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically."
Which is exactly what the ISG report said, not it hasn't stopped the Reich-wing attack dogs from biting.
But then Reid's comments shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since the Pentagon has now given up on "Standing the Iraqis Up, so we can Stand Down".
Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said. ... Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq."
And as we've seen, the Iraq Surge is working so well that we've had record numbers of military and civilian deaths over the last couple of months.
Yesterday was the deadliest day since the escalation strategy began, resulting in the deaths of over 200 people. A car bomb killed 140 in a single blast at the Sadriyah marketplace, making it the deadliest single such car bomb attack since the US-led invasion four years ago. Many Iraqis today are expressing their outrage over the impact that escalation is having on their lives:
"After two months of the security plan in the hot areas of the city, the attacks have moved to the cold, quiet areas to make them hot, while the hot areas burn," said [Iraqi parliament member] Nasar al-Rubaie.
Aljazeera.net reported that locals "cursed at the security plan of the prime minister" in the scene of the bombings. The website added that when Iraqi Army units appeared on the scene, outraged locals hurled insults at the soldiers and chased them out of the area. A US Army patrol entered the district shortly afterwards, only to be received by stones and slugs thrown by the residents. The American force withdrew from the scene as well.
"Where is the government? Where is the security plan?" [65-year-old Abu Adnan] raged, while bystanders crowded to see the three metre (yard) wide and two metre deep hole ripped out of the black tarmac by the force of the car bomb.
"How could anyone bring a car bomb to this place? What were those innocents guilty of?" [28-year-old Imad Basim] demanded. "Where is the government and its security plan?"
The increasing presence of the U.S. occupation is fueling a bloody cycle of violence: it motivates terrorists to carry out attacks; the locals blame the attacks on the U.S.; the terrorists then find a new recruiting pool willing to carry out new attacks.
So it's seem the perfect definition of something or the other to continue on the course that's already been set until the inevitable finally sinks in, or the next President takes office - whichever comes first.
The latter preferably sooner than 2009.