Thursday, December 15, 2011

Panetta: "Those lives were not lost in vain."

Thus did US SecDef Leon Panetta proclaim today in Baghdad, where he publicly declared the War in Iraq to be over.

It's over indeed for the US.  (Indeed, for thousands of Americans more caught up in Facebook and "American Idol," it barely mattered to begin with.  They partied on.)

Thomas Ricks noted only a few years ago that Iraq's troubles were nowhere near ending, and that we might be closer to the middle of Iraq's war than to its end.  I fear that he may have been right.  Regardless of the assertions by Panetta and others that Iraq is now stable, there's still way too much there that's not:

  1. Maliki has become a Saddam-lite, and as the US completes its pullout and various demons begin to crawl out of the woodwork, he will likely decide to emulate the departed dictator ever more.
  2. Saboteurs are blowing up Iraq's pipelines with relative impunity - and the question of who's going to help Iraq extract the oil remains vexed, at best.
  3. Kirkuk remains up for grabs, as does much of the Arab-Kurd frontier north of Baghdad.
  4. Various Iraqi provinces are expressing a growing desire for federalist-style autonomy vs. a centralized state.  (See #1)
  5. Syria's blooming civil-sectarian war will surely spill over into Iraq.
  6. Iraq still faces a huge problem with internal refugees.

I could go on. 

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