Hello, I'm David Ignatius, and I'm a confused, cluless dolt

Hot on the heels of the now-infamous WaPo editorial, in which the paper's editors informed us that everyone "knew" by mid-2002 that Bush was dead-set on taking the US to war (despite Bush saying the opposite until March 2003), comes this offering by David Ignatius.

Ignatius trots out a number of lines and ideas in support of the general consensus now developing to rewrite certain parts of history concerning the lead-up to the war while suppressing discussion of other parts (yes, strong charges, and ones fully merited by the facts of the matter). His arguments thus deserve a closer look, if for no other reason than to understand the thinking (if I may describe what goes on in their heads with this word) of the "reasonable pundit/policy-maker".

Ignatius states that

The central problem in Iraq is the same one the United States encountered when it invaded the country in March 2003. That conundrum can be summed up in a phrase attributed to a top U.S. commander a week or so into the war: "Where are the Iraqis?"

This statement, of course, presupposes that the US's main goal was regime change all along, which is another bit of historical revisionism, since the ostensible purpose of the war was disarmament, not regime change. The real question - or conundrum, as Ignatius likes to call it - was actually something more like, "Where the fuck are the WMD"?

Next, we get a revision of what is currently going on in Iraq:

The militias are a fact of life. The Kurdish pesh merga forces are maintaining order in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. The Iranian-trained Badr Brigade and other Shiite militias are keeping peace in the south and in Shiite areas of central Iraq. It's only in the Sunni heartland north and west of Baghdad, and in the checkered quilt of the capital itself, that true anarchy reigns.

Right - "anarchy" only in the "Sunni heartland". I guess a self-satisfied fathead like Igantius wouldn't care to describe what's going on in Mosul as "true anarchy":

The measures - surrounding Mosul with a moat-like ditch and ordering taxi drivers to take the trunk lids off their vehicles - are aimed to prevent militants bringing in car bombs and other weapons and kidnapping locals.

In recent months, the insurgents have been stepping up their activities in the area, with around 30 car-bomb attacks per week, according to the US Defence Department.

On June 2, five Iraqis were killed when two motorcycles rigged with bombs exploded here. And on May 23, at least 20 people died when two car bombs blew up.

Maybe Ignatius would have a different opinion of what constitutes "true anarchy" if he had to deal with this shit on K Street every day.

Moving on, Ignatius proceeds to endorse ethnic and religious gangs - "militias" - as a regrettable but necessary step towards ending the daily violence in the country. Naturally, when groups of rival religio-nationalist formations face off with each other in a desparate situation, nastiness in the form of civil war might occur. But the clever Ignatius has a plan for dealing with this eventuality:

The United States must make clear that it will tolerate the militias as local peacekeepers -- and continue doling out cash to tribal warlords -- only if they avoid such provocations and observe "red lines."

Just like that - when dealing with armed militias, whose cultures and history you have a pitiful grasp of, just treat them as you would squabbling children: threaten to withold favors, make sure they play nice in their own areas, see to it that they show proper respect, and maybe give them a pat on the head if they behave, and then everything will work itself out.

Unfortunately, this "grand strategy" neglects the possibility that all of the rival militias will tell the US where it can stick its "red lines", for the simple fact (which Ignatius, in his clumsy roundabout way, acknowledges) that the US needs them far more than they need the US. The US then would be faced with one of two scenarios: either certain more favored militias (like the Kurds) would be more and more emboldened to carry out policies like those detailed in this WaPo article, or the US military would end up fighting Kurds and Shia, in addition to Sunnis.

You would think that someone who proudly proclaims his opposition to withdrawing the US military would come up with something a little better. But, then again, when you're dead-set on making a bad decision with a terrible execution look good, silly scenarios are pretty much all that's left.

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