There’s good news from fractured, chaotic Iraq: Thanks to the U.S., Iraqi factions are putting aside their tribal and political differences and are pledging unity to save their country.
If you read only U.S. newspapers and watch U.S. TV, you probably missed this fascinating development.
Not that this is a triumph of U.S. diplomacy. The factions are those that have launched thousands of deadly attacks on American soldiers and Iraqi police, and they’re unifying only to drive the U.S. occupiers out of their country.
You might have heard Colin Powell say July 18 on NPR that the U.S. cannot maintain its current level of American-soldier fodder in Iraq beyond mid-2008. Powell lied in February 2003 about WMD in Iraq, but he’s probably not lying now. NPR’s intro noted:
Powell does not support Congressional efforts to bring the troops home. But he tells [correspondent] Robert Siegel in an interview on Wednesday that troops will have to start coming home next year, because the military is stretched too thin.
But the bigger news — practically ignored by U.S. media — was from Seaumas Milne of the Guardian (U.K.), who wrote July 19 from Damascus:
In their first interview with the Western media since the US-led invasion of 2003, leaders of three of the insurgent groups — responsible for thousands of attacks against US and Iraqi armed forces and police — said they would continue their armed resistance until all foreign troops were withdrawn from Iraq.
They also denounced al-Qaeda for sectarian killings and suicide bombings against civilians.
But just because these rebels are announcing a political alliance doesn’t mean that it’s a peaceful one. Milne’s story continues:
The move represents a dramatic change of strategy for the mainstream Iraqi insurgency, whose leadership has remained shadowy and has largely restricted communication with the world to brief statements on the internet and Arabic media.
The last three months have been the bloodiest for US forces, with 331 deaths and 2,029 wounded, as the 28,000-strong “surge” in troop numbers exposes them to more attacks.
It’s only smart for the Sunni rebel groups to try to position themselves now for what inevitably will be peace talks — to the chagrin of the Bush regime — between the insurgents and U.S. officials (forget the Iraqi “government, which has little control over the country). And it’s smart for them to try to distance their own violence against Shi’ites (and U.S. soldiers) from other rebels’ bombings of civilians (and U.S. soldiers).
This new Sunni alliance does increase the pressure on George W. Bush‘s regime to start pulling out — as Bush’s father should have done 61 years and nine months ago.
But withdrawing from Iraq is too big a decision to leave to the president. What does Dick Cheney think? He told a cluster of Boys State delegates in Wyoming last month:
No problem. A number of our soldiers will continue to arrive home in coffins.