Monday, February 05, 2007

No simple matter

NYT - Iraqis Fault Pace of U.S. Plan in Attack
A growing number of Iraqis blamed the United States on Sunday for creating conditions that led to the worst single suicide bombing in the war, which devastated a Shiite market in Baghdad the day before. They argued that the Americans had been slow in completing the vaunted new American security plan, making Shiite neighborhoods much more vulnerable to such horrific attacks.

The critics said the new plan, which the Americans have started to execute, had emasculated the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that is considered responsible for many attacks on Sunnis, but that many Shiites say had been the only effective deterrent against sectarian reprisal attacks in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhoods. Even some Iraqi supporters of the plan, like Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister who is a Kurd, said delays in carrying it out had caused great disappointment.
The Iraqis are suggesting that by implementing the first part of the plan, getting rid of the Mahdi Army, without implementing the second part of the plan, adding new troops, has made the situation worse instead of better.

It is such a complex situation that we are dealing with. The Iraqi government is not currently capable of protecting its citizens. In such a situation, people can become dependent on local militias like the Mahdi Army. It may or may not be their first choice, but it also may be the only protection they have.

It ultimately boils down to the fact that we started something that we don't know how to finish. We thought we could fight them over there to keep from fighting them at home and in that reguard, we have succeeded. But we have made the situation over there so much worse than before, it is hard to believe that the supposed benefits outweigh the costs. There simply is no good answer at this point, just a short list of bad options.

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