Friday, August 24, 2007

Patience and Iraq

The release of yesterday's intelligence assessment on the Iraq Occupation and Surge strategy does not give reason for hope about Iraq--no matter what your political persuasion. From NYT, Report Offers Grim View of Iraqi Leaders:

A stark assessment released Thursday by the nation’s intelligence agencies depicts a paralyzed Iraqi government unable to take advantage of the security gains achieved by the thousands of extra American troops dispatched to the country this year.

Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, called for a limited United States withdrawal to begin this year.

The assessment, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, casts strong doubts on the viability of the Bush administration strategy in Iraq. It gives a dim prognosis on the likelihood that Iraqi politicians can heal deep sectarian rifts before next spring, when American military commanders have said that a crunch on available troops will require reducing the United States’ presence in Iraq.

But the report also implicitly criticizes proposals offered by Democrats, including several presidential candidates, who have called for a withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq by next year and for a major shift in the American approach, from manpower-intensive counterinsurgency operations to lower-profile efforts aimed at supporting Iraqi troops and carrying out quick-strike counterterrorism raids.

Such a shift, the report says, would “erode security gains achieved thus far” and could return Iraq to a downward spiral of sectarian violence.

Well, that plainly says sectarian violence is baked into the cake. Sectarian violence ends when the two sides have exhausted themselves and are too tired to continue the gruesome slaughter. Standing in the middle of the warring factions and preaching peace and moderation will do no good. A troop presence will do no good. Picturing the occupation as some kind of humanitarian aid misses the point entirely.

There are no religious moderates in Iraq. The Iraq constitution specifically includes a hallowed place for Sharia law. As interpreted by the religious fanatics, this is a license from god to terrorize, brutalize, and butcher their neighbors.

One would like to believe that there are innocents in the conflict, but as long as the so called innocents hold to their religious beliefs, beliefs that encourage carnage, they are not so innocent. That is tough to say when you look at the pictures of the children ravaged by the conflict, but let's face it, that is the nature of religion when it gets out of control. Denying the nature of politics fueled by religion, as we see in Iraq, only makes matters worse. Those who would remove the separation of church and state in the US ought to meditate on this.

As a religious skeptic I find it increasingly difficult to sympathize with those who create the conditions for their own hell, war, death, and destruction. Patience understandably grows thin.

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