March 08, 2006

Damn, even Khalilzad is off the Iraqi reservation

Even U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad is losing faith in the chances of success there.

Reports the Guardian:
Khalilzad told the Los Angeles Times Iraq had been pulled back from the brink of civil war after the February 22 bombing of a Shia shrine in Samarra. However, another similar incident would leave Iraq “really vulnerable” to that happening, he said. “We have opened the Pandora's box and the question is, what is the way forward?” He added that the best approach was to build bridges between religious and ethnic communities.

Ah, Zalmay? That should have been happening, oh, at least two years ago.

Meanwhile, his comments caught official Washington so fast that Donald Rumsfeld couldn’t even spin them.
Rumsfeld said sectarian violence had been exaggerated by the media. When asked how that squared with Khalilzad's view, he replied: “Well, he's there. He's an expert. And he said what he said. I happen to have not read it, but I am not going to try to disagree with it.”

Meanwhile, Khalilzad also recognizes, two years or more too late, that we didn’t send enough troops there at the start. However, in the same breath, he gets back on the BushCo “stay the course” mantra.
Khalilzad suggested the situation was so dangerous that without a substantial US presence, a civil war could suck in other Arab countries on the side of the Sunnis and Iran on the side of the Shias, creating conditions for a regional conflict and disrupting global oil supplies. "That would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play," he said.

No shit, Sherlock. But, that’s only if you’re correct about this happening.

Rather, given the history of dislike of outsiders in Iraq, any direct Iranian intervention would serve to temporarily unite most Iraqis. So, despite Khalilzad grasping that the situation is fucked up, he still doesn’t really have a clue about what the country is like.