Another Grim Week in Iraq
The New York Times | Editorial
Saturday 10 March 2007
On Sunday in Basra, British troops stormed an Iraqi intelligence office and found about 30 prisoners, some of them tortured. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was outraged - not at the torture, but at the raid that halted it. Soon British troops will be leaving Basra, leaving Mr. Maliki and his security forces free to do as they please.
On Monday in Baghdad, a suicide bomber attacked a row of bookstores, killing 20 people. The White House insists that Baghdad is growing more secure, as the extra infusion of American troops ordered by President Bush begins to take up positions in threatened neighborhoods. And on it went. On Tuesday, sectarian attacks killed at least 118 Shiite pilgrims. Then on Thursday, The Times reported that the day-to-day commander of American forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, was recommending that those extra 21,500 combat troops - plus the 7,000 support troops Mr. Bush somehow forgot to mention - stay on into next year. On the same day, General Odierno's boss, Gen. David Petraeus, said that even more American troops could be needed in the near future.
Anyone who wanted to believe that all Mr. Bush was seeking was a short-term security push - as part of a larger strategy to extricate American troops from this unwinnable war - now needs to face up to a far less palatable reality. What is under way is a significant and long-term escalation. The Army cannot sustain these levels for more than another few months. And as long as Iraq's leaders refuse to make significant political changes, the civil war will continue to spin out of control.