Since the new administration took office, there has been a clear and concerted effort by the Iraq war’s architects and supporters to present post-surge Iraq as a success, to be either preserved or squandered by President Obama. In reality, however, the continuing violence in Iraq speaks for itself.
Anthony Shadid reports today that a series of six car bombs “struck markets, a police convoy and a gaggle of workers in Shiite Muslim neighborhoods Monday, killing 32 people and wounding more than 120 in one of the most violent days in the capital in months.”
Last week Alissa Rubin reported that “Iraqi and American security officials say that jihadi and Baath militants are rejoining the fight in areas that are largely quiet now, regrouping as a smaller but still lethal insurgency.”
A non-comprehensive list of other attacks in Iraq since January 2009:
- 23 killed by a suicide bomber in Youssifiyah on January 2.
- 38 killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad on January 4.
- 16 killed by two car bombs at a bus terminal in Baghdad on February 11.
- 8 killed by a suicide bomber in Karbala on February 12.
- 40 killed by a suicide bomber in Musayyib on February 13.
- 13 killed by a car bomb in Hillah on March 5.
- 30 killed by a suicide bomber at a Baghdad police academy on March 8.
- 38 killed by a suicide bomber in an Abu Ghraib market on March 10.
- 32 killed in a series of attacks on March 23.
- 16 killed by a car bomb in Baghdad’s Shaab neighborhood on March 26.
As Eric Martin writes, “412 Iraqi civilians were killed in March, up from 346 in February which was itself up from 296 in January” according to Iraq Body Count. By any definition, Iraq remains in crisis.
Looking at last week’s battles between Sunni Awakenings forces and Iraqi government troops, CAP’s Brian Katulis noted the “shaky foundation constructed by the 2007 surge of U.S. troops — a foundation that largely glossed over long-standing political rivalries.” Katulis also stressed that the “tension between the central government and these independent militia groups is less dangerous than the growing tensions between Arab and Kurdish factions in northern Iraq.”
This is the Iraq in which Dick Cheney claims “we’ve accomplished nearly everything we set out to do,” and Bill Kristol insists “we have succeeded.” Leaving aside the myriad ways in which such claims are preposterous, given Kristol’s new effort to present himself as a bipartisan supporter of President Obama’s Afghanistan effort, I’ll be interested to see whether he interprets similar levels of violence in Afghanistan as an Obama “success” four years from now.