Lt. Col. Steven Duke says the Mahdi Army is 'sitting on the 50-yard line, eating popcorn, watching us do their work for them.'
Over the past three and a half years, the dominant flaw in the Bush administration's handling of Iraq is that it has, both intentionally and inadvertently, driven the country's several communities apart. Every seemingly neutral action - holding elections, firing Baathists from the bureaucracy, building up an Iraqi military and police force - has had seismic sectarian consequences. The greatest danger of Bush's new strategy, then, isn't that it won't work but that it will - and thereby push the country one step further along the road to all-out civil war. Only a sustained strategy of pressure on the Maliki government - unlike anything Bush has been willing to do yet - has any chance of averting this outcome.
Otherwise, American interests and ideals will both be in jeopardy. Al Qaeda in Iraq - the one true national-security threat we face from that country - will gain Sunni support. In addition, as American officers like Duke and Brady have noted, our ideals will be tarnished. The U.S. Army will be actively aiding and assisting in the largest program of ethnic cleansing since Bosnia. Is that the model Bush wanted for the Middle East?
All Bush ever wanted was what the neocons told him to want - oil, hegemony, and the dominance of Israel in the area. Oh, and a legacy unlike the one he has already gotten out of the deal.