Our Government Has Failed Us

If they are just getting around to concluding they have reduced a country to civil war, they have failed us and must be retired.

Pentagon Finds ‘Elements’ of Civil War in Iraq
By Anna Mulrine
Posted 3/15/07

The findings of a new Pentagon study – “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” – are sobering: The conflict, it concludes, has clearly morphed from a Sunni-led insurgency fighting foreign occupation “to a struggle for the division of political and economic influence among sectarian groups and organized criminal activity.”
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In other words, “some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a civil war.” Most of the daily, convulsive conflicts are characterized by a sectarian competition for power and influence, “principally,” the report notes, “through murders, executions, and high-profile bombings.” But the report emphasizes that the violence remains relatively localized–at least among the country’s 18 provinces. While four provinces, among them Baghdad, Anbar, and Diyala, are home to 37 percent of the population, they account for some 80 percent of the country’s attacks (chart on Page 15 of the report).

The report includes cautions that it was undertaken before the current Baghdad security plan had a chance to gain steam and should be viewed as a baseline from which to measure future progress.

In that regard, as America approaches the start of the fifth year of the war in Iraq, the so-called surge plan is starting to show modest but encouraging signs under Gen. David Petraeus, who commands all U.S. military forces there. According to an Iraqi military spokesman, since the start of the plan on February 14, violent incidents in the capital are down from 1,440 between January and February to some 265 since then. Those figures most likely do not include unidentified bodies of those found murdered in Baghdad, which some estimates indicate may add another 200 people to the month’s death toll.

Residents report that market squares are coming back to life under recent U.S. efforts to close the areas to traffic even as Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, cautioned that February had seen “an all-time high” for car bombs and reiterated calls for patience.

Those calls are echoed throughout the U.S. military. Suffice it to say that big challenges remain in Iraq. Chief among them, according to the report, are a need for more judges and better security for those already sitting on the bench. According to the report, judges who don’t succumb to the myriad threats against them often fear handing down guilty verdicts against defendants with ties to insurgent groups or militias. In the local courts, the report adds, “judges often decline to investigate or try cases related to the insurgency and terrorism.” What’s more, the Iraqi prison system remains overcrowded, and correctional services are “increasingly infiltrated by criminal organizations and militias.”

Read the rest here.

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