American Proscenium

Iraq: The Way Out

Two years and three months after President Bush announced the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq, the war is far from over.  Large areas of the country are affected by an open-ended guerrilla insurgency.  Periods of intense violence are followed by brief and temporary lulls.  Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on May 31 that the insurgency was in its “last throes” (to the privately expressed consternation of U.S. officers on the ground), but the number of daily attacks now exceeds 70; it is more than twice the figure for February.  Those attacks are carefully planned and coordinated: over a ten-hour period on the night of June 22, for instance, seven car bombs killed more than three-dozen people in Shiite Muslim neighborhoods of Baghdad.  The first half of May saw 21 suicide attacks in the nation’s capital; whereas, in the whole of 2004, there had been only 25 such attacks.

>Monthly Central Command estimates, according to which thousands of insurgents have been killed or captured, may be correct, but the ability of the resistance to attract new recruits and step up the violence remains undiminished.  Local U.S. military successes, such as the Fallujah operation last fall, appear temporary and even meaningless in the absence of a broad strategic design to end the war by political means.  In the meantime, not just the countryside but many towns in the center and...

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