Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three Years On

The war in Iraq is now moving into its fourth year. General George Casey, who last July predicted there would be significant reductions in the number of American forces in Iraq beginning this spring or summer, has stated that those reductions will now have to wait until late this year at the earliest.

Meanwhile, former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi is less optimistic, according to the Guardian (London):

In London, Mr Allawi told BBC 2's Sunday AM programme: "We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

Britain's defence secretary, John Reid, rejected that assessment. In Baghdad's green zone, he said that most of Iraq was under control: "There is not civil war now, nor is it inevitable, nor is it imminent".

In Washington, the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, also appeared on television to play down ideas of civil war. He told the CBS programme Face the Nation that the surge in attacks aimed at fomenting sectarian conflict simply reflected the insurgents' "state of desperation".

The remark echoed a similarly optimistic phrase used by Mr Cheney in March last year, when he claimed the insurgency was in its "last throes". Yesterday, he maintained that that description was still "basically accurate".

Three years on, and Vice President Cheney remains clueless. The very fact that there's even a debate about whether a civil war exists should tell him something. Indeed, it should tell all of us something.