Republicans Walk Away From Rove's "Run On Iraq" Strategy
Adam Nagourney of the NYT runs a piece today that follows on something I mentioned earlier in the week about the NRSC withdrawal from DeWine’s race in Ohio: Rove’s midterm strategy of running on the war and its alleged central relationship to the war on terror has not only failed, but Republicans rather than embrace Iraq on the campaign trail are trying to ignore it. After two elections where Democrats were the ones who tried to ignore Iraq, they are the ones who are making Iraq and the failed Bush occupation a central issue in this campaign.
Of course, it makes it easier for the Democrats to run on this failed war and beat the GOP’s brains out with it, when we get news like this:
The two-month old joint U.S.-Iraqi bid to crush violence in the Iraqi capital did "not meet our overall expectations," as attacks in Baghdad rose by 22 percent in the first three weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the U.S. military spokesman said on Thursday.
The spike in violence during the month of fasting was "disheartening" and the Americans were now working with Iraqi authorities to "refocus" security measures, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said.
In the void forged by the sectarian tensions gripping Baghdad, militias are further splintering into smaller, more radicalized cells, signifying a new and potentially more volatile phase in the struggle for the capital.
Iraqis and U.S. officials blame militias for mass kidnappings and slayings, for setting up unauthorized checkpoints and for causing much of the recent carnage.
Senior U.S. military and intelligence officials say they have identified at least 23 militias -- some are Sunni, but most are Shiite. Some are paramilitary offshoots of the Mahdi Army or have broken away entirely from Sadr's command structure. Others seem inspired by Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah guerrilla movement.
The fragmentation poses new obstacles to U.S. and Iraqi forces trying to quell the sectarian strife that U.S. commanders fear could plunge the nation into civil war. Militias have already replaced the Sunni Arab insurgency as the biggest challenge to U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq. Senior U.S. military officials privately acknowledge they do not have the manpower to conduct urban sweeps in every neighborhood or prevent areas they have cleared from again becoming havens of lawlessness and killing.
One reason for the militia splintering is that differences have emerged within Sadr's movement over his decision to join Iraq's political process. The senior coalition intelligence official said he knew of at least "six major players" who have left Sadr's movement because they no longer find him radical enough and see him as "too accommodating to the coalition."
And Bush’s reaction to the spike in violence is to blame it on a Tet-like attempt by the insurgents to weaken domestic support for the war here at home, instead of accepting that his policies and mismanagement of the occupation is to blame.