On Monday, September 18, former Secretary of State and longtime Bush family confidant James Baker sat in a room full of recognized national security analysts gathered at the U.S. Institute for Peace in downtown Washington. Each expert expressed his or her views on the situation in Iraq. Baker was there as co-chairman - along with former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind. - of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan assemblage of foreign-policy luminaries tasked with charting a new course in Iraq that might win the support of the White House and Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans. The study group is expected to release its recommendations shortly after the November elections, to avoid sullying them with the muck of Washington's bitter partisan politics.
"There must have been 25 experts in that room from every part of the political spectrum, and I was absolutely struck by how the overwhelming consensus was that things are very bad and getting worse in Iraq," said one participant, a description that was confirmed by others. "The only real debate centered on the need to lower our expectations, and to try to extract some stability out of a failed democracy-building experiment."
The gloom in the room reflected the unmistakable downward trajectory of a failing state beset by insurgency, a sustained assault by foreign terrorists, and a civil war of sectarian slaughter. This summer about 3,500 Iraqis died violently in a single month, the highest monthly total since the United States invaded in March 2003. The number of sectarian killings in Baghdad each month has more than tripled since February. In September, for instance, an estimated 1,450 Iraqis were killed in the capital; many of the victims were rounded up en masse from their workplaces and tortured by death squads before being dispatched with a bullet to the head. Sectarian violence, according to press reports, has already "ethnically cleansed" or displaced from their homes more than 300,000 Iraqis, and an estimated 1 million more have left the country to escape the unrelenting bloodshed.
The violence aimed at U.S. and coalition forces has likewise risen sharply. Between January and July of this year, the number of improvised explosive devices that were either detonated or defused nearly doubled, marking a record high. Insurgent attacks against U.S. and coalition forces occur every 15 minutes on average, or more than 100 times each day, according to a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward. At least 69 American troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, making it one of the deadliest stretches for coalition forces since the 2003 invasion. U.S. intelligence analysts predict that next year will be worse.
I'm sure glad there was some actual reason that all those soldiers we sent got killed horribly. Oh wait, there were no WMDs there, you say? And we've totally failed to make it a Democracy, you say? And it's become a hot-bed breeding ground for terrorists, too? Hmm, let me go ask the NeoCons why we went into Iraq again...
You people who were in favor of this war sure would like it if I didn't shove this in your face, wouldn't you? You'd just prefer to ignore the problem, and hope it goes away. You're really happier not knowing. You want to ignore the consequences of your stupidity, and pretend there's nothing wrong.
TOO FUCKING BAD. You created this problem, you are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, and I'm going to keep rubbing your nose in it until the mindless, senseless, meaningless slaughter (of Americans and Iraqis both) stops.
You made this bed, and now you're going to lie in it.
(P.S. Where's that Osama bin Laden guy? You know, the one who crashed the planes into the towers on Sept 11th? Oh, he's STILL sitting in his hut in the mountains of Pakistan, laughing at us, planning his next attack?)