Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

WAR -- The Money [Part 7]

Basra Assault Exposed U.S., Iraqi Limits

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, April 4, 2008

. . . The [recent Basra] offensive, which triggered clashes across southern Iraq and in Baghdad that left about 600 people dead, unveiled the weaknesses of Maliki's U.S.-backed government and his brash style of leadership. On many levels, the offensive strengthened the anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The United States has spent more than $22 billion to build up Iraq's security forces, but they were unable to quell the militias. Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers and police deserted the fighting, a senior Iraqi military official said. Maliki had to call on U.S. and British commanders for support. In some areas, such as Sadr's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, U.S. forces took the lead in fighting the cleric's Mahdi Army militiamen.

And it was Iran that helped broker an end to the clashes, enhancing its image and illustrating its influence over Iraq's political players.

"It was ill-advised and ill-timed," said Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman. "I think Maliki had a setback and America had a setback because Iran and Moqtada al-Sadr were victorious."

But other Iraqi politicians, including many who are wary of Sadr's growing influence or consider Maliki too pro-Shiite, said they admired the prime minister's decisiveness and courage. "For the first time, I felt that Maliki is now stronger than he was in the last two years," said Hussein Shuku Falluji, a legislator with the largest Sunni bloc in parliament.

Senior American officials put a positive face on the offensive and its aftermath. Crocker, in a briefing Thursday with journalists, said the Basra violence was not a setback for the United States in Iraq and did not "erase the significant progress" in improving security in recent months. "This is a positive development for Iraq," he said, adding that Maliki had emerged stronger.

But Crocker also acknowledged the tenuousness of recent reductions in violence more than a year after the launch of a temporary buildup of American troops. "Gains are fragile," he said. "This episode demonstrates it."
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Five years and $22 billion and we get this from, Ambassador Crocker, our man in the center of the Green Zone (Which was bombarded again today!): "Gains are fragile," he said. "This episode demonstrates it."

Should we try ten more years and $44 more billion? How many years and how many American dollars does it take to solve the problems between religious groups and family factions that have gone on for 1300 years? Can John McCain count that high?

I often use the word “arrogance” to describe our “regime change” and “build a democracy in the desert” dream turned nightmare. And this is why. What other word describes a policy which ignores a long history and the people created by that history? Can we intelligently operate on the assumption that an outside force, us, however well-meaning, can grab that history, those people, by the scruff of the neck and turn it whichever way we please? Is this not the very essence of a self-destructive arrogance that we are and will be paying for for decades to come?

For full article go HERE.

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