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Michael Totten Worries About Iraq

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Why?

Because it’s still a mess…

BAGHDAD – For the past two weeks I’ve been embedded with the United States Army in Baghdad, and I find myself unable to figure out what to make of this place. Baghdad, despite the remarkable success of the surge, is as mind-bogglingly run-down and dysfunctional as ever, even compared with other Arabic countries. Iraq is a dark place. At times it feels like a doomed country that has only been temporarily spared the reckoning that is coming. Other times it is possible to look past the grimness and see progress beyond the mere slackening off of violence and war. Is Iraq truly on the mend, or has a total breakdown been merely postponed? Opinions here among Americans and Iraqis are mixed, but nearly everyone seems to agree about one thing at least: terrorists and insurgents will respond with a surge of their own in the wake of the upcoming withdrawal of American forces.

My guess is that since Obama kept Gates on, the withdraw will be slower…but it’s inevitable and we all know it. Iraq has to stand on its own, and there’s little we can do to stop internal tensions that have been going on for as long as anybody can remember. We would literally have to be there for decades and watch a generation die out, and that’s not politically or economically feasible at this point.

By the way, the photo above is of a mini bus that was full of 15 police cadets that was hit by a car bomb near a police academy in Baghdad on Monday. 36 people died in bombings around the country yesterday.