Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Iffy News From Iraq

Advance word of a new National Intelligence Estimate casts doubt on the idea of "victory" in Iraq, creating problems for both John McCain and Barack Obama on the issue of withdrawal.

"A nearly completed high-level U.S. intelligence analysis warns that unresolved ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq could unleash a new wave of violence, potentially reversing the major security and political gains achieved over the last year," the McClatchy Newspapers report today.

Such a prediction undermines McCain's claims of "victory with honor" and complicates Obama's promises to begin immediate withdrawal if and when he takes office.

A consensus of all 16 US intelligence agencies, the new NIE cites as sources of continuing tension the struggle among Sunnis, Kurds and Turkmen for control of oil-rich Kirkuk and the Shiite-dominated central government's stalling over hiring former Sunni insurgents converted, for a price, into members of Awakening groups as well as fragility of the truce by Shiite militias led by Muqtada al Sadr.

Unlike McCain, Gen. David Petraeus is still refusing to proclaim victory, calling the situation "fragile" and "reversible," and the soon-to-be former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice this week publicly said that "nothing is certain in this life. And success in Iraq is not a sure thing."

Meanwhile, our troops continue to die there, albeit at a slower rate, and $10 billion from a strapped economy keeps being poured into the war that should never have started and shows no signs of ending.

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