Jake Tapper reports for ABC News that Iraq is already in a civil war, and we’d all better accept this fact and adjust.
As Pentagon generals offered optimistic assessments that the sectarian violence in Iraq had dissipated this weekend, other military experts told ABC News that Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq already are engaged in a civil war, and that the Iraqi government and U.S. military had better accept that fact and adapt accordingly.
“We’re in a civil war now; it’s just that not everybody’s joined in,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.
“It’s our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq,” added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.
Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, “If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they’d say we’ve been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004.”
From here let’s skip over to today’s Dan Froomkin column:
… even as the public increasingly sees the situation in Iraq headed toward all-out civil war, Bush’s official position is denial.
Just last week, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas tried repeatedly to get Bush to address the issue. “What is the policy if, in fact, a civil war should break out or the sectarian violence continues?” she asked. “Are you willing to sacrifice American lives to get the Sunnis and the Shiites to stop killing each other?
Bush’s reply: “I don’t buy your premise that there’s going to be a civil war.”
Good thing Bush wasn’t president in 1861, huh?
Froomkin provides more links to commentary about the essential Bushie world view, which is a mix of ignorance and denial. See especially this Fareed Zakaria column. The Bushies have made one blunder after another in Iraq, and most of these blunders came about because the Bush Administration viewed Iraq through a prism of fantasy. Even now, the Administration remains unable to understand what’s happening in Iraq from an Iraqi point of view. For that reason the Bushies do not understand how their policy decisions actually impact Iraqis, and for this reason they misjudge Iraqi actions and reactions.
But Bush cannot learn from mistakes, because he won’t even admit mistakes. Zakaria writes,
In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush took a swipe at critics. “Hindsight alone is not wisdom,” he said. In fact, the tragedy of Iraq is that most of these critiques were madeâ€”by several peopleâ€”at the time the policies were announced, often before. It’s the president who needs to look back and learn from his mistakes. Hindsight may not be the only wisdom, but it is a lot better than operating in the dark.
Intelligent people may disagree whether Iraq is engaged in civil war now or is just on the edge of one. But the White House position is that there is not now and never will be a civil war. Ronald Brownstein wrote in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times:
… the president gave no hint he’d considered how the widening gulf between Sunni and Shiite might alter America’s strategy. Instead, he summoned old sound bites, as if cueing them on tape. “The troops are chasing down terrorists,” he told Vargas. And: “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”
In other words, if there is a civil war in Iraq Bush will be the last to know. And for that reason our response is doomed to be a day late and a few billion dollars short.
I learned a long time ago never to say “it can’t get any worse.” Truly, there are no limits to how bad “it” can get. Hang on to your butts.