Dan Froomkin observes today that the Bush administration has finally realized that there’s a very bloody and very frightening civil war going on in Iraq, and that U.S. troops need to change their strategy:
[I]t’s a historic admission: That job one for many American troops in Iraq is no longer fighting al-Qaeda terrorists, or even insurgents. Rather, it is trying to quell an incipient — if not already raging — sectarian civil war, with Baghdad as ground zero.
Arguably, that’s been the case for quite a while. But having the White House own up to it is a very big deal.
No, kidding. The thing is: Can American troops actually “quell” the civil war? Can they stop Sunnis from killing Shiites and Shiites from killing Sunnis and all the rest? Is that even possible? They haven’t been able to so far. At this point, it’s looking more and more like 130,000 U.S. soldiers are going to be stuck in the middle of a bloodbath they’re powerless to stop.
Indeed, yesterday, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of a major Shiite party, called on Shiite citizens to start attacking Sunnis. The entire country is rapidly disintegrating, and if U.S. troops can’t do anything about it, then keeping them in Iraq serves no purpose except putting them in extremely grave danger.