Home > Uncategorized > The N.Y. Times says it all about Iraq

The N.Y. Times says it all about Iraq

The Endgame in Iraq

Iraq is becoming a country that America should be ashamed to support, let alone occupy. The nation as a whole is sliding closer to open civil war. In its capital, thugs kidnap and torture innocent civilians with impunity, then murder them for their religious beliefs. The rights of women are evaporating. The head of the government is the ally of a radical anti-American cleric who leads a powerful private militia that is behind much of the sectarian terror.

The Bush administration will not acknowledge the desperate situation. But it is, at least, pushing in the right direction, trying to mobilize all possible leverage in a frantic effort to persuade the leading Shiite parties to embrace more inclusive policies and support a broad-based national government.

One vital goal is to persuade the Shiites to abort their disastrous nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Jaafari is unable to form a broadly inclusive government and has made no serious effort to rein in police death squads. Even some Shiite leaders are now calling on him to step aside. If his nomination stands and is confirmed by Parliament, civil war will become much harder to head off. And from the American perspective, the Iraqi government will have become something that no parent should be asked to risk a soldier son or daughter to protect.

Unfortunately, after three years of policy blunders in Iraq, Washington may no longer have the political or military capital to prevail. That may be hard for Americans to understand, since it was the United States invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and helped the Shiite majority to power. Some 140,000 American troops remain in Iraq, more than 2,000 American servicemen and servicewomen have died there so far and hundreds of billions of American dollars have been spent.

Yet Shiite leaders have responded to Washington’s pleas for inclusiveness with bristling hostility, personally vilifying Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and criticizing American military operations in the kind of harsh language previously heard only from Sunni leaders. Meanwhile, Moktada al-Sadr, the radically anti-American cleric and militia leader, has maneuvered himself into the position of kingmaker by providing decisive support for Mr. Jaafari’s candidacy to remain prime minister.

It was chilling to read Edward Wong’s interview with the Iraqi prime minister in The Times last week, during which Mr. Jaafari sat in the palace where he now makes his home, complained about the Americans and predicted that the sectarian militias that are currently terrorizing Iraqi civilians could be incorporated into the army and police. The stories about innocent homeowners and storekeepers who are dragged from their screaming families and killed by those same militias are heartbreaking, as is the thought that the United States, in its hubris, helped bring all this to pass.

It is conceivable that the situation can still be turned around. Mr. Khalilzad should not back off. The kind of broadly inclusive government he is trying to bring about offers the only hope that Iraq can make a successful transition from the terrible mess it is in now to the democracy that we all hoped would emerge after Saddam Hussein’s downfall. It is also the only way to redeem the blood that has been shed by Americans and Iraqis alike.

  1. John in Morro Bay
    April 3, 2006 at 7:08 am

    Another 50 people, including six U.S. soldiers, were killed on Sunday in a new wave of violence. When will the insanity stop? And some people actually think we’ve made things better in Iraq??????

    Our only hope is for the Democrats to score some big gains in November and send a message to the White House. Retired general Anthony Zinni (sp?) has called for Rumsfield to step down.

    Day by day, step by step, the light is finally going our in collective brains. Dave, you’re absolutely right — W. is the worst President of our generation (I’m 47). He’s pathetic.

  2. Bob from San Luis
    April 3, 2006 at 8:27 am

    …It is conceivable that the situation can still be turned around. I hope so; given the performance of this administration I seriously doubt it. Remember, George W. Bush choose this war. The final results are squarely on President Bush’s sholders; I will be among the first to give him credit should this turn out well.

  3. Bob from San Luis
    April 3, 2006 at 8:42 am

    um, misspelled chose. The point is that we didn’t have to go to Iraq. Would Saddam still be in power if we hadn’t? Maybe, but a lot of death and destruction wouldn’t have happened.

  4. Rich from Paso
    April 3, 2006 at 11:46 am


    Maybe not the destruction, but I guarantee that the death would have continued under Saddam; the only question is how many. Look, I’m not happy about the death squads and the civilian mayhem that has been taking place lately. I agree with the assessment from the NYT that the militias are a huge part of the problem as is the current prime minister. I think that the Iraqis will form a government with a backbone that the militias will be disbnded.

  5. The New Tone of San Luis Obispo
    April 8, 2006 at 7:07 am

    Why doen’t anyone report anymore when it is reported that they uncover a hole in Iraq with executed people. What is wrong with you morally!


    Here is what they said….please don’t enjoy. I think you are freaking sick if you think Iraq is not better off today that under Saddam!

    Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies—their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.

    “We’ve already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London. The United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) all estimate that Saddam Hussein’s regime murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people. “Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 290,000 Iraqis have been ‘disappeared’ by the Iraqi government over the past two decades,” said the group in a statement in May. “Many of these ‘disappeared’ are those whose remains are now being unearthed in mass graves all over Iraq.”

    If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot’s Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

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