YES, THINGS CAN GET WORSE….A CONTINUING SERIES….The New York Times reports today on the recent spike in helicopter crashes in Iraq:

Some aspects of the recent crashes indicate that insurgents have become smarter about anticipating American flight patterns and finding ways to use old weapons to down helicopters, according to military and witness reports.

….Historically, improved tactics in shooting down helicopters have proved to be important factors in conflicts in which guerrillas have achieved victories against major powers, including battles in Somalia, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Compare that with Tom Lasseter’s report from Baghdad last week:

The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq’s security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, which has been battling to take over much of the capital city as American forces are trying to secure it.

…. After U.S. units pounded al-Sadr’s men in August 2004, the cleric apparently decided that instead of facing American tanks, he’d use the Americans’ plans to build Iraqi security forces to rebuild his own militia.

….His recruits began flooding into the Iraqi army and police, receiving training, uniforms and equipment either directly from the U.S. military or from the American-backed Iraqi Defense Ministry.

Every day that we remain in Iraq we are almost certainly making things worse, both politically and militarily. The political situation will continue to deteriorate because any kind of compromise is fatally associated with doing the Americans’ bidding. The military situation will continue to deteriorate as the insurgents take advantage of the war to become better trained and more lethal. (Remember the mujahedin in Afghanistan?) And, as Armando never tires of pointing out, our continued presence is by far the most likely source of some kind of provocation that provides an excuse to expand the war into Iran.

Iraq is not likely to have a happy ending no matter what we do, and that’s hard to accept. But there’s a huge downside to staying, namely that the ending is likely to be a lot less happy the longer we’re there. It’s time to stop digging ourselves into an ever deeper hole.

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