Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, September 17, 2007

A Preview of Iraq Without Us

During his testimony last week, Gen. Petraeus described what’s happening in the city of Basra as “mildly heartening.”

Despite worries about Iran’s increasing influence in the Shiite city, Petraeus noted, "Interestingly there is an accommodation down there right now that is the kind of Iraqi solution to problems in the south.”

As British troops leave, Basra offers a preview of what might happen when the U. S. gets out of the whole country. In a report-in-depth today, the Christian Science Monitor describes “Iraq's second-largest city where Shiite parties, militiamen, and criminal gangs all are locked in a vicious fight for power...

“This is a city that operates according to a fragile balance of military force, fear, cronyism, and business interests...Basra is a predominately Shiite city, yet it is still imbued with fear of kidnappings, assassinations, and being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“This instability reveals that the violence in Iraq is not only sectarian or the result of insurgent activity, but is also caused by deep-seated political and tribal rivalries and an intense scramble for power.”

The overall picture sounds like a compression of American history from the Wild West to the Roaring Twenties.

"We are in a wait-and-see approach with Basra,” Gen. Petraeus told Congress, “but we have every expectation that Basra will be resolved by Iraqis."

How long will we have to wait and see? The British are leaving. If Basra is going to be “resolved” by Iraqis, why not all of Iraq?

We are not going to spread sweet reason among fanatical factions who will outwait us no matter how long we are there. What, besides George W. Bush’s place in history as a President who didn’t admit defeat, do we accomplish by staying?

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