Government Agency Issues Grim Report On Iraq, Warns Of ‘Descent Into Hell’

At his press conference this morning, President Bush said we are “absolutely” winning in Iraq, but a government-funded nonpartisan agency — the U.S. Institute of Peace — has released “an unremittingly grim report” ruling out victory in Iraq. Here are three of agency’s predictions for the future of Iraq:

1. “The Long Shot to Overcome Ethnic and Sectarian Politics” (most optimistic scenario): “This is an Iraq that slowly, in fits and starts, trudges down the difficult road of creating a functioning state.”

2. “Lebanonization” (militias wage a civil war in the capital): “Unable to maintain control, the United States is itself a target when it becomes involved. … U.S. troops largely retreat behind fortifications, distant from population centers, and head north to Kurdistan.”

3. “Descent Into Hell” (worst-case scenario): Most of Iraq’s neighbors are drawn into open regional warfare, and it ends with Iran conducting strikes against Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.

The report concludes that “avoidance of disaster and maintenance of some modicum of political stability in Iraq are more realistic goals” than the Bush administration’s expressed goal of “an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure.”

The USIP is helping the Iraq Study Group with its report and this “latest study could foreshadow the tone of [former Secretary of State James] Baker’s upcoming report.”