The Candidates Should Be Talking About Iraq
As I've previously noted, one of the main reasons for the brief relative downturn in violence in Iraq shows ominous signs of collapsing. The unilateral cease-fire that has seen the Mahdi army disengage from fighting may soon end. One of the other key reasons for the brief lull has been a bizarre policy of arming and buying off Sunni militants, so they will fight more radical elements rather than our troops and our puppet Iraqi government. Of course, this creates the obvious long-term threat that these militants will eventually use those arms and that money against our troops and our puppet Iraqi government. But even the short-term gain from this strategy may also be ending.
As reported by the New York Times:
American-backed Sunni militias who have fought Sunni extremists to a standstill in some of Iraq’s bloodiest battlegrounds are being hit with a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks, threatening a fragile linchpin of the military’s strategy to pacify the nation.
At least 100 predominantly Sunni militiamen, known as Awakening Council members or Concerned Local Citizens, have been killed in the past month, mostly around Baghdad and the provincial capital of Baquba, urban areas with mixed Sunni and Shiite populations, according to Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani. At least six of the victims were senior Awakening leaders, Iraqi officials said.
Violence is also shaking up the Awakening movement, many of whose members are former insurgents, in its birthplace in the Sunni heartland of Anbar Province. On Sunday, a teenage suicide bomber exploded at a gathering of Awakening leaders, killing Hadi Hussein al-Issawi, a midlevel sheik, and three other tribesmen.
There are already reports of increasing violence, and just today there have been murderous attacks, including on an Iraqi school. There have also already been more Americans killed in January than in December.
Arianna Huffington recently wondered why Iraq has become the forgotten issue of the 2008 presidential campaign:
But ignoring Iraq would be a disaster for the Democrats -- whoever their nominee turns out to be. Pushing Iraq aside and ceding national security to the GOP while focusing on domestic and economic concerns is the exact game plan the party power-brokers convinced John Kerry to follow in 2004. And we all know how well that turned out.
Democrats need to start talking about Iraq and terrorism again -- and about how the war has made us less safe and less effective in fighting terrorists -- and not shut up about it until the first Tuesday in November.
The polls show that the American people consider Iraq to be one of their most important campaign issues. The polls show that the American people want out. Maybe it's time for the Democrats to start making the formulation of clear exit strategies from Iraq one of their top priorities, and maybe it's time they started talking about it.