I'm sure George hasn't been curious enough to make inquiries, so is still in the misty dark, and the NYT story isn't yet a day and a half old, so virtual Republican-front-runner Mike Huckabee could not possibly comment on it, but Iraq, according to the latest from outside analysts and knowledgeable Iraqis themselves, is expected to blow -- again -- and this time, with some bloody finality.
"This fight is still shaping up," says Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group, in Brussels. "We are in a holding pattern. The military solution has gained enough peace to last through the U.S. election, but we have a situation that is extremely fragile. None of the violent actors have either been defeated or prevailed, and the political roots of the conflict have not been addressed, much less resolved."
This prediction of Iraq's impending and savagely final showdown hardly demands the crack expertise of the U.S. intelligence community. A child could reason it out. Since war -- including civil war -- is merely an extension of politics by other means, and since the triumviral Battling Bickersons of Iraq refuse to settle on a political accommodation, the war will resume. It's just a matter of time. Simple as that.
The U.S. troop escalation was meant to de-escalate the rising violence in Baghdad, especially, and that was a surefire but only temporary fix. Its impermanence was also predicted by antiwar critics: the "bad guys" would simply go to ground and outwait America. The powder keg those troops were sitting on would remain, and that's precisely what has transpired. Hence the inexorable U.S. drawdown will creak open the heretofore lid, bit by agonizing bit, and Iraq will soon be back to its pre-escalation violence. The "surge"? All those additional American lives and additional American dollars? All for nothing.
There are even signs of already reemerging troubles -- what else; car and suicide bombings -- to question Mr. Hiltermann's assumption that "the military solution has gained enough peace to last through the U.S. election." That, no doubt, was the desperate Republican plan -- its own political solution to the immediately troublesome issue of Iraq. But whether what passes for peace in that loosely held-together country will itself hold for another 11 months is doubtful, at best.
Nevertheless within two months or twelve, the lid will decidedly blow. The "peace," the relative calm, has signified nothing -- and even Iraq's deputy prime minister concedes the obvious: "It’s more a cease-fire than a peace."
And cease-fires tend to start wearing thin on the "violent actors" who have neither "been defeated or prevailed."
Shiite militia-leader Moktada al-Sadr "has issued increasingly bellicose pronouncements recently," and all those "Sunni insurgents who turned against the jihadists are now expecting to be rewarded with government jobs."
To the latter: good luck. The Iraqi politicians in Baghdad couldn't agree on a plan to fix potholes, let alone resolve a 1400-year-old sectarian conflict through some sort of glad-handing, 19th-century American patronage system. It just ain't gonna happen. And those now well-U.S.-armed Sunnis, having taken out so many of the Qaeda bad guys on the politicians' behalf, are beginning to grasp the swindle.
As for the predatory Mr. Sadr, his fight, all along, chiefly has been with "the rival Shiite political force in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, many of whose members are in the government security forces." Again, nothing has changed. "Despite his militia’s pause," Sadr’s objective "remain[s] unfinished: ... gaining power over the Supreme Council." And remember, all those disaffected Sunnis will be joblessly available to rejoin the factional carnage, providing Sadr with an additional excuse to re-unleash his militia, and just as U.S. forces are unavoidably withdrawing.
There's no question that the domestic forces who are celebrating the surge's costly and limited success are soon to be brutally reeducated. The only question that does emerge is how soon, which is to say, which will come first: delusional U.S. elections or Iraq's re-explosion.