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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

US incompetence in Iraq continues to amaze.

If you ask US officials to identify the main security problem in Iraq, they'll tell you that it's the infiltration of Shi'ite militias into the country's security forces, and that these militias are now killing more Iraqi civilians than the Iraqi insurgency.

Like many of the problems faced by the US in Iraq, this one could have been avoided — but it wasn't. According to Knight Ridder's Tom Lasseter, US officials had been warned about the Shi'ite infiltration for the last two years, but ignored those warnings entirely.

Among U.S. officials' missteps:
  • White House and Pentagon officials ignored a stream of warnings from American intelligence agencies about the mounting danger posed by two Shiite militias, the Badr Organization and the Mahdi Army. The Badr Organization is the armed wing of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the most powerful Shiite political faction in the country; the Mahdi Army is loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

  • A group of high-ranking Iraqis appointed in 2004 to persuade militia leaders to disband their groups received no funding and was allowed to wither away.

  • U.S. diplomats in Baghdad were slow to recognize that the majority Shiite population's ascent to political power would expand rather than diminish militia activity. Many believed that the groups' members would retire or would be integrated into the security forces without significant problems.

  • Acting against the Shiite militias would have undercut the administration's arguments that foreign terrorists and holdovers from Saddam Hussein's regime were the problem in Iraq. It also would have raised doubts about the administration's reliance on training largely Shiite security forces to replace U.S. troops in Iraq. [Emphasis mine]

Do you notice the pattern there? Most of the problems had to do with the unwillingness of the White House and Pentagon to 1) listen to anyone who told them something they didn't want to hear and 2) do anything that would have required acknowledging that mistakes had been made.

Given that Dubya's administration hasn't changed their behavior regarding Iraq — or anything else, for that matter — I imagine I'll be blogging about some similar story just a few months down the line. And again a few months after that.

Via Knight Ridder Washington Bureau.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:16 AM | Get permalink




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