Saturday, December 09, 2006

This Isn't Your Father's Civil War

Andrew Bacevich has proven to be an astute observer of the Middle East, and a thoughtful right-leaning critic of American foreign policy.

Here, he criticizes the hubris of American elites, who continue to ignore realities in Iraq that make a favorable resolution to the "war" impossible. Tinkering around the edges, revising "strategy," moving troops here and there, working to create a functional Iraqi army, etc., amount to spitting on a bonfire, says Bacevich:

Gauging the reality of present-day Iraq requires a taste for interlocking conundrums. We should see it as a civil war coupled to an insurgency exacerbated by rampant criminality. For good measure, call it a front in President Bush's global crusade against "Islamofascism" as well.

But even this will not suffice. Grasping the nature of this sectarian-struggle-cum-"resistance"-and-crime-wave becomes impossible without an appreciation of the political, historical, and cultural context from which this bloodletting springs...

Those still determined to devise a single phrase to describe Iraq should try this one: Pandora's box.

In a remarkable display of recklessness laced with naiveté, President Bush imagined that he could lift the lid on that box and rearrange the contents, liberating Iraq and then remaking it in our own image. Alas, the president succeeded only in unleashing furies that have long since escaped his control.

To imagine at this late date that we retain any ability to tame those furies is nonsense.

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