Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shock and Awe and Then What?

With a friend still serving in the Middle East, I cannot forget about Iraq, even if it no longer tops the lead stories in the news. From Friday's Financial-Times:

The US administration has quietly reversed its goal from whittling down troop numbers in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman on Friday confirmed that US troop levels in Iraq rose to 132,000 during the past week – the highest since late May – from 127,000 at the start of the week.

However, analysts said an increase in troop numbers was more likely than a reduction because the number of sectarian killings in Iraq had almost doubled since the start of the year. The rise will prompt fears that the US is becoming increasingly bogged down in an unwinnable conflict. There were 3,169 Iraqis killed in June, compared with 1,778 in January.

However, US officials deny that the new campaign to stabilise Baghdad undermines Mr Bush’s promise that “as the Iraqis stand up we will stand down” – a phrase he has almost stopped using. In a departure from Mr Bush’s normally upbeat language, he this week said the violence in Baghdad was “terrible”.

Although the violence has shifted from an anti-US insurgency to a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia groups, Iraq experts fear Shia militias will see US troops as an easy target. There are also concerns that the combined US-Iraqi force of 75,000 will be insufficient to regain control of Baghdad.

Ok. Now we're back to increasing troop levels. It's odd how the administration is very vocal when it talks about reducing the number of troops serving in Iraq. But when more troops are sent to Iraq, there's hardly a word and it's done when other stories occupy the headlines.

I just don't have it in me to rail today against the continually awful planning of this war by Bush, Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld. Sadly, I think history will tell that story well by itself. "Shock and awe" may not be the way to win a war or a peace, afterall. Israel may be learning that lesson these days too. And, Georgie Boy, I'm still waiting for those Iraqis to stand up. Oh yeah, I forgot. They did stand up....for Hezbollah.


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