Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Reality in Najaf

A mess:

...What happened over the weekend concerning the siege of Najaf and related struggles in other cities should serve as a reminder of just how ridiculous the situation has become. As in the spring, offensive operations against a private army in the control of a militant have started, stopped, started, and stopped again, while Americans have been getting killed under rules of engagement that prevent them from following their most basic imperative -- suppressing fire directed at them. Offensive operations have been halted at least twice while Americans were told that elements of the new Iraqi armed forces were on the way to finish the most sensitive part of the job, only to find out that no one was coming and that there were no orders to finish the job. Worse, this chaos has unfolded under circumstances in which it has appeared that the interim government of the US-installed prime minister, Ayad Allawi, was making decisions about the deployment and use of American soldiers, which is the last thing you would expect a right-wing US administration to tolerate. It is bad enough to have to pretend that Allawi's government is truly sovereign, but if this is how the relationship is supposed to work, it is already a failure...

I don't care what political party you belong to; there are no easy answers to this.

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