Dome and Doomer

First the dome, then the minarets. The news today from Iraq is even more grim than usual.

The terrorist bombing this morning of a sacred shrine in Samarra comes on the heels of a really grim assessment by an American general of how many more centuries we'll be in Iraq.

It was only last month that a U.S. Marine blogging smartly from Iraq as Licari of Arabia wrote about the February 2006 terrorist bombing of the Golden Dome — the Al Askari shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad — as a "sentinel event." Licari explained that the "psychological damage to Iraq's Shia population was stunning." Riots and more bloodshed ensued after that bombing.

So what's going to happen after this morning's bombing of the shrine's minarets? As the BBC reports:

The two minarets of the al-Askari shrine in Iraq, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, have been destroyed by two explosions.

According to witnesses the minarets collapsed completely after being hit by bomb blasts at around 0900 (0500 GMT).

The shrine houses one of two tombs in Samarra for revered Shia imams.

The 2006 bombing of the shrine's dome is widely believed to have set off a continuing spiral of sectarian violence in which many thousands have died.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are obvious fears this latest attack might give it yet further impetus. . . .

Almost immediately after the explosions, a curfew was imposed on Samarra as Iraqi security forces and US troops rushed to the area.

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At least this time, we didn't directly do the damage. Back in 2004, we dropped a 500-pound bomb on a Fallujah mosque, pulverizing both of its minarets. "Yes, good, destroy a mosque and create another 10,000 jihadists," I wrote at the time.

Today's bombing will roil Iraq even more, and remember: It was only yesterday that Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey painted one of the grimmest assessments yet of our agonizing entanglement in the Iraq debacle. As the Washington Post reported this morning:

A senior U.S. military commander said yesterday that Iraq's army must expand its rolls by at least 20,000 more soldiers than Washington had anticipated, to help free U.S. troops from conducting daily patrols, checkpoints and other critical yet dangerous missions.

Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years — five years in the case of protecting its airspace — and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq.

Dempsey laced his sober analysis with a morsel of erudition:

Describing the U.S. effort in Iraq as a labor of Sisyphus, he said the metaphoric stone is "probably rolling back a bit right now in Baghdad. But I don't think it's going to roll over us."

Sisyphus was a scumbag leader who was punished for his trickery by being forced to roll a huge boulder up a hill. Each time he did so, the boulder would escape his grasp and roll all the way back down. So he would have to do it again and again. Forever.

Maybe I credited Dempsey with too much savvy. Yes, the boulder may not roll over us, but we're going to keep trying to push it up the hill again and again. And we'll inevitably fail.

In this modern-day tragedy, the boulder is crushing Iraqis each time it rolls down the hill. And who's being punished by having to do the damn pushing? Not our scumbag leaders but American soldiers.

It probably all sounds like Greek to our Congress. It certainly did back in October 2002 when they paraded lemming-like behind the Bush regime over the cliff and down into Iraq.

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