The world's eyes are on the Israel/Lebanon conflict, so much so that other events in the world (other than Mel Gibson's DUI) seem to be happening in the background.
The war in Iraq Is part of that background noise. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding Iraq policies (or the apparent lack thereof). ThinkProgress.org points out that a lot has happened since the SecDef last testified in February.
- Approximately 300 U.S. troops have died in Iraq
- Approximately 2,530 U.S. troops have been wounded
- Well over 10,000 Iraq civilians have been killed
- Insurgents have conducted an average of 620 attacks per week
- In March there were 7.8 hours of electricity per day in Baghdad (down from 16-24 hours before the war), last month there were 7.6 hours.
- In March there were 133,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Today there are 132,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and plans to raise that number to 135,000.
It looks like Rummie's testifying now. He doesn't seem to be explaining why 'stay the course' is a good idea or what course, exactly, we're supposed to be staying. Truthfully, I think a better nautical term for the SecDef and Iraq policy would be 'adrift'.
The BBC reports:
Civil war is a more likely outcome in Iraq than democracy, Britain's outgoing ambassador in Baghdad has warned Tony Blair in a confidential memo.
William Patey, who left the Iraqi capital last week, also predicted the break-up of Iraq along ethnic lines.
He did also say that "the position is not hopeless" - but said it would be "messy" for five to 10 years.
Mr Blair said the violence was designed to put extremists in charge rather than leaders committed to democracy.
"What should our response be? However difficult it is, stay the course, stand up for those people who want democracy, stand up for those people who are fighting sectarianism, stand up for a different vision of the Middle East based on democracy, liberty, the rule of law," he told reporters.
The Foreign Office said it did not comment on leaked documents but added that Iraqi security forces were getting more capable every day.
Agence France Press reports:
Troops loyal to the embattled Iraqi government have fought intense gunbattles on the outskirts of Baghdad, as their US and British allies raised the spectre of civil war.
Fighting continued into Wednesday night after a day of violence in which dozens were killed -- including 16 mostly young civilians who died in a double bomb attack on a football pitch -- as insurgents targeted police positions.
President Jalal Talabani painted an optimistic picture of his government's beefed-up security strategy, predicting that homegrown police and army units would be ready to take charge right across Iraq by the end of the year.
But officials from the United States and Britain -- who between them have 137,000 troops in country supporting the government -- warned that violence between Sunni and Shiite factions posed a serious threat to Iraq's future.
I ask the question a lot, but just how bad do you have to suck to take Saddam Hussein's Iraq and make it even worse? Is it possible that somewhere - maybe in a psychiatric ward or home for the mentally helpless - there's someone who could do a worse job than Rummie?
I mean, geez, the guy had a plan for what was basically a coup, but stopped planning once the leader was deposed. This is the utopian 'and then history ends' thinking that has been a hallmark of the neocons; if you do the right things in the middle east, everything will be perfect and happy for ever and ever.
We live in a world that reacts and changes. Rummie and the neocons think they live in a world that's static and posable. We need people who are willing to live in the real world.