Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor
"There have been allegations about this and there's been some evidence of it. And it's troubling."Indeed.
As the Wichita Eagle's editors note "Most Americans would have a stronger word for the news that U.S. tax dollars have helped fund hundreds of roadside executions." I think that "catastrophic" would describe the results if those death squad wind up pushing Iraq over the brink into outright civil war with open movement by militias against one another or against civilian populations.
If that happens, our soldiers will be caught in the middle. If we act against the militias, we'll be seen as taking sides, making our position untenable. If we don't take action, we'll be giving tacit acceptance to the carnage.
Iraq is on the brink of disaster and no one seems to have a clear plan of what to do. Withdrawing is a bad option, and establishing a stable democracy with a sense of shared national identity is a longer term solution than is manageable just now.
If there had been adequate planning before the war, we'd all have ponies, I guess. And our soldiers are stuck, fighting a war against an increasingly ambiguous enemy for goals which are increasingly ambiguous or unachievable. As Bill Kristol said, "we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out." And even that becomes unrealistic as the number of combat ready Iraqi units drops from 1 to a total of zero, and conditions get worse.
So I ask, in all honesty, what do we do?