In a series of tightly sequenced attacks, at least 25 Iraqis were killed by suicide car bombings and a barrage of missile and mortar fire in several neighborhoods across Baghdad on Sunday.
The attacks were the most widespread in months, seeming to demonstrate the growing power of the insurgency and heightening the sense of uncertainty and chaos in the capital at a time when American forces have already ceded control to insurgents in a number of cities outside of Baghdad.
American forces appear to be facing a guerrilla insurgency that is more sophisticated and more widespread than ever before. Last month, attacks on American forces reached their highest level since the war began, an average of 87 per day.
Two things are important to keep in mind with respect to the situation in Iraq. First, the war in Iraq was a war of choice, not of necessity. This limits the political and military options available to the United States in dealing with the insurgency. ("You broke it, you pay for it" is, understandably, the attitude of many of America's traditional allies.) Second, the American occupation of Iraq has brought greater instability to the Middle East contrary to the expectations of those who planned the war. The great problem facing policymakers now is that neither staying the course nor withdrawing from Iraq seems likely to improve the stability of the region. We must determine what policy is likely to be the lesser evil knowing full well that even the lesser evil is likely to be significantly worse than the status quo ante bellum.
For more on the situation in Iraq, I recommend Informed Comment, written by Juan Cole of the University of Michigan. In a recent post, Cole wrote:
Al-Qaeda has succeeded in several of its main goals. It had been trying to convince Muslims that the United States wanted to invade Muslim lands, humiliate Muslim men, and rape Muslim women. Most Muslims found this charge hard to accept. The Bush administration's Iraq invasion, along with the Abu Ghuraib prison torture scandal, was perceived by many Muslims to validate Bin Laden's wisdom and foresightedness.After the Iraq War, Bin Laden is more popular than George W. Bush even in a significantly secular Muslim country such as Turkey. This is a bizarre finding, a weird turn of events. Turks didn't start out with such an attitude. It grew up in reaction against US policies.