The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday that its two-month drive to crush insurgent and militia violence in the Iraqi capital had fallen short, calling the raging bloodshed disheartening and saying it was rethinking its strategy to rein in gunmen, torturers and bombers.That is indeed, as Bush finally admitted yesterday, a turning point that invites comparison with Vitenam. James Baker, Bush Senior's consigliere, is already being downbeat about his own commission's ability to come up with policy options - one of which, amazingly, is asking Iran and Syria to bail the U.S. out of the quagmire it has created for itself - which will do anything more than slow what seems now to be inevitable.
The admission by military spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell came as car bombs, mortar fire and shootings around the country killed at least 66 people and wounded 175. The dead included the Anbar province police commander, slain by gunmen who burst into his home in Ramadi.
...Caldwell told reporters the U.S.-Iraqi bid to crush violence in the capital had not delivered the desired results, with attacks in Baghdad rising by 22 percent in the first three weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when compared to the three previous weeks.
"In Baghdad, Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations in sustaining a reduction in the level of violence," Caldwell said at a news briefing. He was referring to the security sweep, which began Aug. 7 with the introduction of an additional 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops into Baghdad.
"The violence is indeed disheartening," he said.
Caldwell said U.S. troops over the last week were forced to launch a second sweep of southern Baghdad's Dora district after a surge in sectarian attacks. At least eight people, including four policemen, were killed in bombings and shootings in Dora on Thursday, police said.
"We find the insurgent elements, the extremists are in fact punching back hard, they're trying to get back into those areas," Caldwell said.
Mr Baker, the co-chair of a study group on Iraq, warned it was unrealistic to expect an immediate solution to the problems. "There is no magic bullet for the situation in Iraq. It is very, very difficult," he said in a speech to the World Affairs Council, in Houston, on Tuesday. "Anybody who thinks that somehow we're going to come up with something that is going to totally solve the problem is engaging in wishful thinking."Bush and his cronies have created a Gordian Knot which cannot be unravelled by any amount of Alexandrian swordwork. They have stayed the course - and continue to demand staying the course - so long that there's no other way to untie the knot either. The Iraqis may have a chance of rescuing themselves if and when their sovereignty is more than just a few empty words scrawled on a napkin - and must chart their own course in doing so, however it turns out. They have that right as human beings and the last people to say different are the failures who put them in their current predicament. For the occupiers, the choices left are leave willingly or leave unwillingly. That those are the only choices, all bad ones, should be laid squarely at the door of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and their neocon cheerleaders. Theirs is the blame.