Iraq Body Count Continues to Rise

The bodies of 87 people were discovered in Iraq over the last twenty-four hours. All were killed execution-style, with 29 of them found partially naked in a stacked grave. This is the second wave of mass killings since the bombing of the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra several weeks ago. Sectarian violence continues to rage, and Shiites living in primarily Sunni areas are abandoning their homes in fear for their safety.

President Bush, unlike Donald Rumsfeld, is starting to acknowledge the threat of civil war. “I wish I could tell you that the violence is waning and that the road ahead will be smooth,” he said. “It will not. There will be more tough fighting and more days of struggle, and we will see more images of chaos and carnage in the days and months to come.” As civil unrest continues to take its toll on Iraqi civilians, the Iraqi government is still struggling to adapt to the new distribution of power, as the Sunnis (once powerful under Saddam Hussein), are now governed by the Shiites. And the Shiites, who have been shut out of power for the past 14 centuries, are not about to give that up just yet.

Meanwhile, the CNN/Gallup poll found today that the war in Iraq has driven Bush’s approval rating to the lowest of his presidency—36 percent. With approval ratings so low, the pressure is on the administration to try to pull out some of the 130,000 troops in Iraq, before the midterm elections.