IRAQ NEWS….Two interesting posts from Juan Cole today. First this:
I see a real and alarming change in tone in the usually optimistic al-Zaman newspaper, whose owner, Saad al-Bazzaz, is a member of Adnan Pachachi’s Iraqi Independent Democrats Movement. It leads on Saturday with an article that says that the past two weeks have witnessed a collapse of security in Baghdad of a sort not seen since the fall of the previous regime on April 9, with large numbers of assassination attempts against prominent technocrats, bureaucrats, and businessmen, including quietists who had no association with the Baath. That is, they are not targets of reprisal killings–it is something more random and more sinister than that.
It is in this context that al-Zaman reports the wounding of three worshippers at a Sunni mosque in the Shaab Township section of Baghdad. Someone seems to be trying to provoke Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq of the sort that routinely occurs in Pakistan. (Radical Sunni groups linked to al-Qaeda are behind it in Pakistan, though it also has local roots).
Quote of the day, from retired US Marine General Anthony Zinni: “There is no strategy or mechanism for putting the pieces together . . . We’re in danger of failing . . . My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice . . . I ask you, is it happening again?” I’ve been told in Washington that if you want to know what the Pentagon brass really thinks, listen to Zinni. On this evidence, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith aren’t the most popular men in the Pentagon right about now.
An adversarial relationship between the generals and the civilians in the Pentagon is nothing new, but I have a feeling it’s getting very, very acute these days. After all, it must have taken a pretty serious threat of mutiny to get Bush to agree to go back to the UN.