This is still the reality in Iraq:
Car bomb attack near Shiite shrines kills dozens
At least 58 people were killed in a car bomb attack Saturday between two Shiite shrines in the Iraqi city of Karbala, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said. The Interior Ministry called the attack, which also injured more than 100 people, a suicide bombing.
No one is safe in Iraq. Not anywhere.
And we can't even tell exactly how much damage is being done in that nation in terms of loss of life. The Iraqi government is covering up the numbers.
The United Nations is unable to determine how many Iraqi civilians have been killed so far this year because the Iraqi government won't share the information, a U.N. agency said in a Wednesday report. The report also contains a laundry list of human rights concerns. (Full report -- PDF)
This is why a timetable for withdrawl is necessary. I understand that we made them mess in Iraq- but we seem completely incapable of fixing it. We need to offer assistance to the Iraqi people and government to let them do the best job they can in restoring order.
We also need to move into a new way of thinking about Iraq. The Bush Administration has created the new Afghanistan. Iraq was not a threat before the invasion. It is a threat now. The containment regime imposed on Saddam was nothing compared to the vigilance that will be required to be certain that elements from within Iraq cannot threaten US interests in the Middle East, or the US itself.
Here's the irony, when Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Wolfiwitz were telling us that al-Qaeda was in Iraq and we needed to go to war, they were wrong (or lying).
The contention by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that al-Qaida terrorists were in Iraq and allied with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the invasion has been disproved on numerous fronts.
In September, a Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Saddam rejected pleas for assistance from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and tried to capture another terrorist whose presence in Iraq is often cited by Cheney, the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
"Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaida to provide material or operational support," the Senate report said.
Now al-Qaeda is in fact in Iraq. This Administration has created the very threat they said they were going to protect us from. That is failure in the largest sense of the word.
The basic approach now must be- withdraw ground troops in short order; train and advise Iraqi military and police forces; leave military assets in the region in order to bring air power into play should any major group (Iran, organized Iraqi militias, etc.) seek to create a power base in Iraq or overthrow the Iraqi government; apply intelligence assets (human and technological) to the nation to keep tabs on the al-Qaeda presence.
It won't be pretty. But it is the only way. And the ugliness can be laid squarely at the feet of George W. Bush, for he is the one who took a situation that was a matter of concern but managable and turned it into a situation that is a grave concern to the US and will prove very difficult to manage in the years ahead.