Iraq: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the ...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Iraq: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the ...

As the Washington Post reports, President Bush yesterday tried to reframe the continuing instability in Iraq:
"The mission in Iraq is tough because the enemy understands the stakes," Bush said, alongside Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
The mission in Iraq is extremely tough, and the reasons go far beyond the insurgents' understanding of what is at stake.

Most of the reasons can be traced right back to the White House. These reasons include the administration's shortsighted decision -- disregarding advice from the State Department -- to immediately declare all Ba'ath party members (overwhelmingly Sunnis) ineligible for jobs in the provisional government, national or local police forces, and other civil affairs work.

Although the U.S. later backed off this hardline stance, it was too late to repair the damage caused by alienating millions of Sunnis -- many of whom were reluctant members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party. This created a fertile environment for insurgent leaders to recruit Iraqis to carry out brutal attacks and bombings.

But yesterday produced one of the greatest indicators yet that the Bush administration did not fully assess the potential consequences of invading Iraq. The Post reports that one of the provisional government's dominant Shiite religious parties has called for a separate Shiite state in central and southern Iraq.

To fully appreciate the magnitude of this development, permit The Post to paint a picture of this secessionary demand:
Waving posters of Iran's late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, thousands of chanting Shiite Muslims signaled approval for a call Thursday by their leaders for a separate Shiite federal state in central and southern Iraq.

... An Iranian-influenced Shiite state in the south would be contrary to what U.S. leaders hoped for when they invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003.
This latter sentence may qualify as the understatement of the year.

But this is what happens when wishful thinking and arrogance guide your nation's foreign policy, instead of prudence and sagacity.

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