Generals raise fears of Iraq civil war By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press Writer
The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East told Congress on Thursday that "Iraq could move toward civil war" if the raging sectarian violence in Baghdad is not stopped.
We can argue over the semantics, but it sounds to me like the civil war has already started.
"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I have seen it," Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said the top priority in the Iraq war is to secure the capital, where factional violence has surged in recent weeks despite efforts by the new Iraqi government to stop the fighting.
Things ain't good when the top U.S. commander in the area admits that the situation has plummeted to an all-time low.
Abizaid, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top military officers testified Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee amid fresh reports that said up to two-thirds of the Army's combat units are unprepared for wartime missions because of the strain of operations in Iraq.
But what about our upcoming four-pronged assault against North Korea, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela? Some of those chubby rightwing Limbaugh fans are going to have to heave themselves off their sofa, grab their broken down weapons, and head for the jungle if Pax Americana is to survive!
The Pentagon is trying to convince lawmakers, divided over the war in Iraq, that the mission is not breaking the Army and that extending the tours of some troops is necessary to quell increasing violence in the region.
I suggest we save some money by moving the Pentagon to Baghdad's green zone.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Abizaid's observation when he told the panel, "We do have the possibility of that devolving into civil war." He added that this need not happen and stressed that ultimately it depends on the Iraqis more than on the U.S. military.
That's reassuring! In other words, if all hell breaks lose, we can ultimately lay the failure at the feet of the Iraqis. What leadership!
"Shiite and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other," Pace said, before the tensions can be overcome. "The weight of that must be on the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government."
I cringe when rightwingers start talking about "love".
President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have steadfastly refused to call the situation in Iraq a civil war, although Rumsfeld at a news conference on Wednesday acknowledged that the violence is increasing.
Rumsfeld had said Wednesday he essentially was too busy to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee and would instead attend a private briefing with the entire Senate on Thursday. He changed his mind after hours of criticism and pressure from Senate Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who said the Pentagon chief should be accountable to the public by answering questions on the war.
You wouldn't want to pull this man away from his real job: lining up lucrative contracts for friends of the administration.
The Pentagon offered no reason for Rumsfeld's change of plans. Earlier, it had said the defense secretary has made an aggressive effort to meet with lawmakers regularly, including testimony at an appropriations hearing earlier this year and at other classified briefings.
Rumsfeld's relations with Congress have been testy at times and he occasionally has resisted testifying publicly on contentious subjects, including the debate over whether high-level officials should be held accountable for the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.
The Pentagon this week announced its decision to extend the tours of an Alaskan Army brigade to bolster security around a volatile Baghdad and push troop levels to roughly 135,000 — dashing the Bush administration's hopes of dropping the figure by tens of thousands by the fall congressional campaigns.
He ain't the only one with "dashed" hopes. I was hoping that Shrub would be hanging from a cherry tree on the White House lawn by this point.