Blown Away

Sorry I’ve been a bit scarce today; I wasn’t feeling entirely well.

The most recent news stories say that 19 people are known to have died in the Florida tornadoes. As near as I can tell, President Bush hasn’t bothered even to issue a statement. No surprise; Bush is barely going through the motions of being President any more. Google “President Clinton tornado” and you’ll get no end of old stories about President Clinton visiting the sites of tornado damage and promising to send FEMA.

Speaking of FEMA: Just a couple of days ago, FEMA denied a request for aid for damage to central Florida from tornadoes and other storms that hit Christmas Day. That request was one of the last acts of outgoing governor Jeb Bush. Is the White House still pissed at incoming governor Charlie Crist for dissing the president during the midterm election campaign?

However, today did seem to be just the time for the White House to release bits of a National Intelligence Estimate that the Bushies have been sitting on for quite some time. It’s Friday, and the news media was all over a natural disaster story. Perfect.

Although there has been much commentary today on the NIE’s use of the term “civil war,” I fear this is the finding that we will most need to discuss:

“Rapid withdrawal” of U.S. forces would likely lead to a “significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq”:

Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources, and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq. If Coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this Estimate, we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi Government, and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation.


The overall security situation “will continue to deteriorate” in next 12-18 months

Iraqi society’s growing polarization, the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general, and all sides’ ready recourse to violence are collectively driving an increase in communal and insurgent violence and political extremism. Unless efforts to reverse these conditions show measurable progress during the term of this Estimate, the coming 12 to 18 months, we assess that the overall security situation will continue to deteriorate at rates comparable to the latter part of 2006.

So if we leave, it gets worse; if we stay, it gets worse. This seems to me to be an argument for leaving, although there’s no reason we can’t take, say, diplomatic measures to mitigate the damage. But be prepared — when we leave Iraq we will live leave a mess behind us, and for the rest of our lives we’ll have to listen to the righties whine that we could have fixed it all had we stayed.