This Friday we heard:
September 1, 2006 · The Pentagon acknowledges what already has been expressed by U.S. military commanders and others recently: Sectarian violence in Iraq is spreading beyond Baghdad. In its quarterly report, the Pentagon report showed Iraqi deaths have risen by 50 percent over the previous quarter.
Five weeks after the Bush administration brought thousands of new troops to quell rising sectarian violence in Baghdad, Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman says violence between Sunni and Shiite muslims has increased elsewhere in Iraq.
The report says violence has held steady in Baghdad. But it has increased in the southern city of Basra, where British troops have clashed with the Mahdi Army. It has risen in Diyala Province in central Iraq, as well as in the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.
The report says, "Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months."
Nationwide in Iraq, the average number of weekly attacks tallied by the Pentagon has increased 15 percent over the past few months. Iraqi casualties have risen by 51 percent. That translates to 1,000 additional Iraqis killed each month.
WASHINGTON - Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a Pentagon report said Friday.
In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon reported that illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of both security and basic social services.
The report described a rising tide of sectarian violence, fed in part by interference from neighboring
Syria and driven by a "vocal minority" of religious extremists who oppose the idea of a democratic Iraq.
Death squads targeting mainly Iraqi civilians are a growing problem, heightening the risk of civil war, the report said.
"Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife," the report said, adding that the Sunni-led insurgency "remains potent and viable" even as it is overshadowed by the sect-on-sect killing.
"Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months," the report said. It is the latest in a series of quarterly reports required by Congress to assess economic, political and security progress.
The response from All Hat and No Cattle hisself?
''Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address. ''They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country.''
"His" commanders and diplomats. Meaning of course, Rumsfeld's armchair sycophants and Condi Rice.
I agree with Helen Thomas:
... it's time for the Democratic candidates to call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
We don't need more phony timetables to prolong the agony. We need a quick exit from a bad show.
It's distressing that The Washington Post has found that most Democrats in competitive congressional races are resisting pressure to call for a speedy pullout. Those spineless Democrats are apparently frightened by the prospect that the Bush administration would use the "cut-and-run" fear card against them.
Where is the opposition in the opposition party?
If politicians live and die by the polls, the evidence is there to support a strong anti-war position. I refer to polls that show Americans are losing faith in this no-win war. For example, a Newsweek poll conducted Aug. 24-25 said 63 percent of those polled disapprove of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq. Approval was 31 percent.
Maybe Americans have had it with all the deception that led to the invasion of Iraq in the first place. Bush continues to brand the war in Iraq as part of the "global war on terror." However, when the president was asked at a news conference last week what Iraq had to do with the 9/11 terrorist attack, he replied: "Nothing."
New York Times columnist Frank Rich doesn't believe Bush will leave it at that when the fifth anniversary of the al-Qaida attack rolls around soon. Bush will go back to his drumbeat, subtly trying to link Iraq to 9/11.
"The new propaganda strategy will be right out of Lewis Carroll ('Alice in Wonderland')," Rich wrote last Sunday. "If we leave the country that had nothing to do with 9/11, then 9/11 will happen again."
Despite growing proof that the Iraqi resistance to the U.S. presence is becoming more lethal, the president insists on adhering to his unpopular course. "Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster," he told reporters.
"What all of us in this administration have been saying is that leaving Iraq before the mission is complete will send the wrong message to the enemy and will create a more dangerous world," he said.
Where have we heard this familiar refrain before?
Of course, this baloney is almost verbatim from President Johnson during the Vietnam War era when protesters hit the streets en masse to express their disenchantment with the war.
In his book "The Logic of Withdrawal," author-journalist Anthony Arnove wrote: "During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government learned how quickly the discipline of an army fighting an unjust war can break down.
"Today the soldiers in the field can see contradictions between the claims of their officers -- and especially the politicians who sent them to war -- and the reality of the conflict on the ground. They now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat.
"And as the resistance grows, more soldiers have come to see they are fighting not to liberate Iraqis but to pacify them."
Arnove rebuts some arguments against pulling up stakes and leaving Iraq. One is that the U.S. presence is preventing a civil war. He points out that the various religious factions in Iraq already are pitted against one another.
If it's not a civil war, it's a reasonable facsimile.