There they go again. The Shiites in Iraq botched another execution! [Reuters
] Unbelievable! How do they keep doing it? This time around they managed to decapitate Saddam's half brother and fellow sociopath Barzan al-Tikriti while trying to hang him. [That must be some sort of record in the annals of medieval executions of the Middle East.] What some might call a botch job, though, the Iraqis call "an act of God." (It's not their fault, it's God's.)According to NYT
the Iraqis apparently miscalculated their "drop chart" by about 2 and a half feet. Referring to a 1947 U.S. military execution manual, "Procedure for Military Executions," the Iraqis should have hung al-Tikriti with five feet seven inches of rope, for what the manual calls a "proper execution." Needless to say, the Iraqi couldn't organize a two car parade, so blowing yet another execution isn't much of a surprise, is it?
'You're doing a heckuva job Nuri-boy. We only wish it could have been done with more dignity.'
So this is the bunch we're relying on to get the violence under control in Baghdad, huh? Understand that this Surge plan that W. is pushing has really been the Iraqi's plan all along. That's the official line anyway. What is odd is that even before W. announced his new double down strategy, al-Maliki and the people around him had been saying the last thing they wanted was more U.S. troops in Baghdad. And after W.'s speech last Wednesday al-Maliki was still insisting that the troops there now withdraw to the 'out skirts of Baghdad.' Just yesterday
his office issued a statement saying Iraq would continue building its forces "to prepare for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from the cities or the withdrawal of 50,000 American soldiers from Iraq." [NYT
] It doesn't sound like they want the 21,000 more troops that their plan supposedly calls for, does it? More than likely what the Shiites really want is for the U.S. to butt out entirely and let them get to wiping out the Sunnis on their own.
Am I too cynical? No. The NYT's John Burns writes that U.S. military planners are worried about the Shiites frustrating W.'s stated strategy of going after the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite death squads equally. He quotes a U.S. military official involved in the negotiations with the al-Maliki government who says: "We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem. We are being played like pawns." (Not exactly the gung-ho enthusiasm I was expecting from the always positive U.S. military.)
The idea of stemming the violence by going after the combatants on both sides looks good on paper, but in practice what you wind up doing is helping both sides by doing their dirty work for them. If U.S. troops clear the neighborhood around Haifa street, for instance, that does for the Shiites what they haven't been able to do for themselves. If U.S. troops were to be able to go into Sadr City and rout the Mahdi Army -- which is not going to happen -- the Sunni insurgents would have one big headache less to worry about. How do you go about calibrating the violence in this zero sum game the Iraqis are playing? It's an impossibility.
When I hear out-going General George Casey say: 'I think you'll see a gradual evolution over the next two to three months and you'll see things continue to get better up through the summer and fall," I start to hear L. Paul Bremer all over again. 'The next six months will be crucial. We've got a six month window here. We're setting timelines and benchmarks.'
And after the elections in 2005 we heard about the crucial six month window after the government formed itself. And then after it took almost six months for the government to actually get around to forming, there was the six month window for a constitution to be written and voted on -- and on and on it goes. Now, we're supposed to believe in another six months they'll finally get it right?
Why am I skeptical? But maybe, after another few months of beating their heads against the wall trying to get al-Malik & Co. to do what they have no intention of doing, W. & Co. will sic John Negroponte on them and he'll arrange some sort of coup. Al-Maliki says he's not going to run for another term and he doesn't even want to finish this one, so what about finagling a coup that reshuffles the cards and leaves al-Sadr out in the cold? This would all be accomplished constitutionally and on the up-and-up, naturally. I'm sure Cheney already has a candidate in mind for the next Iraqi strong man position: My money is on Ahmad Chalabi.
It seems to me that's the only option W. & Co. have. This surge plan is already a non-starter. By the time the military has set up its fortified bunkers with 15 ft. high blast walls in the nine districts its breaking Baghdad up into and begins to get after the problem of stopping a civil war, things will be that much more out of hand. [And if we keep pissing the Kurds off by provoking the Iranians, those mainly Kurdish Peshmerga troops mascara ding as Iraqi army units we're counting on in Baghdad, are going to turn right around and go back home.] But if Cheney can arrange some sort of incident over the Iranian border or in the Persian Gulf, then it all might work out!