11.26.2006

Maureen Dowd: "No One To Lose To"

To follow up the immediately prior post about Iraq violence and Bush mismanagement of it, here's Maureen Dowd. A snippet here, read the rest. [I strongly agree with the last two paragraphs. Do you?]

After the Thanksgiving Day Massacre of Shiites by Sunnis, President Bush should go on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and give an interview headlined: “If I did it, here’s how the civil war in Iraq happened.”

He could describe, hypothetically, a series of na├»ve, arrogant and self-defeating blunders, including his team’s failure to comprehend that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity.

But W. is not yet able to view his actions in subjunctive terms, much less objective ones. Bush family retainers are working to deprogram him, but the president is loath to strip off his delusions of adequacy.W. declined to tear himself away from his free-range turkey and pumpkin mousse trifle at Camp David and reassure Americans about the deadliest sectarian attack in Baghdad since the U.S. invaded. More than 200 Shiites were killed and hundreds more wounded by car bombs and a mortar attack in Sadr City. October was the bloodiest month yet for civilians, and in the last four months, some 13,000 men, women and children have died.

American helicopters and Iraqi troops did not arrive for two hours after Sunni gunmen began a siege on the Health Ministry controlled by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who has a militia that kills Sunnis and is married to the Maliki government.

Continuing the cycle of revenge yesterday, Shiite militiamen threw kerosene on six Sunnis and set them on fire, as Iraqi soldiers watched, and killed 19 more.

The New York Times and other news outlets have been figuring out if it’s time to break with the administration’s use of euphemisms like “sectarian conflict.” How long can you have an ever-descending descent without actually reaching the civil war?

Some analysts are calling it genocide or clash of civilizations, arguing that civil war is too genteel a term for the butchery that is destroying a nation before our very eyes. Anthony Shadid, The Washington Post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his Iraq coverage, went back recently and described “the final, frenzied maturity of once-inchoate forces unleashed more than three years ago by the invasion. There was civil-war-style sectarian killing, its echoes in Lebanon a generation ago.

Alongside it were gangland turf battles over money, power and survival; a raft of political parties and their militias fighting a zero-sum game; a raging insurgency; the collapse of authority; social services a chimera; and no way forward for an Iraqi government ordered to act by Americans who themselves are still seen as the final arbiter and, as a result, still depriving that government of legitimacy. Civil war was perhaps too easy a term, a little too tidy.”