Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some truth about the state of Iraq; or, yet more evidence of how the Iraq War has been lost

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Stating the obvious, but in an official way:

Iraq's Interior Ministry is "dysfunctional," filled with sectarianism and corruption, according to an independent assessment of the Iraqi security forces to be published [today]. The report said that Iraq's national police force, controlled by that ministry, is "operationally ineffective" and should be disbanded and reorganized.

The report, by a congressionally-named commission of retired senior military officers, cites progress in the operation and training of the Iraqi army. But it estimates that "they will not be ready to independently fulfill their security role within the next 12 to 18 months" without a substantial U.S. military presence. Logistical self-sufficiency, which it describes as key to independent Iraqi operations, is at least two years away, the report says.

Iraqi security forces "have the potential to help reduce sectarian violence," the report says. But the report, which emphasizes the failure of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to achieve key political benchmarks, says that violence will not end without political reconciliation. In addition to the failings of the Interior Ministry and police, it says that Maliki is perceived as bypassing the Ministry of Defense and the chain of command to create "a second, and politically motivated" command structure in the army.

The Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, headed by retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, is the latest of a series of progress reports of the political and military situation in Iraq in advance of the Bush administration's own scorecard to be delivered next week. A report by the Government Accountability Office, released yesterday, said that Iraq had met only three of 18 congressional benchmarks for progress.

I wrote about this, linking to a post by David Corn at The Nation, last week. Allow me to repeat myself: Remember all that happy talk from the warmongers about democratic self-governance, about all the great and wonderful things that were going to happen once Saddam's regime was toppled and the Iraqi people were put in charge of their national destiny?

Yes, remember all that talk about how the Iraqis were going to rise up and take back their country from the ashes of the Saddam regime, how it was all going to be so democratic, so liberal, so encouraging of widespread change throughout the region, throughout the Middle East, throughout Dar al-Islam?

Freedom was on the march, or something like that. Problem is, it may just have been marching in place, and now it seems to be marching in reverse. Either way, religious sectarianism seems to be marching faster. So, too, corruption.

Blame Maliki and the current powers-that-be in Baghdad all you want. We know Bush and the warmongers will. The failure of the Iraqis to meet the benchmarks, to take control of their own country, will be their excuse, their justification for pulling out, if it comes to that, and it will, eventually. It's always someone else's fault, in Bush World.

The real responsibility lies not with Maliki, however incompetent and corrupt he may be, but with Bush, also incompetent and certainly the one who truly deserves the blame for the wreck that Iraq has become on his watch and because of his war. If the war had been waged effectively -- or not at all, of course -- we wouldn't have these reports detailing what has gone so horribly wrong.

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