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Grim US Options In Iraq

File photo of the chaos in the dtreets of Baghdad.

"We could agree with the hard-hitting assessment of the Iraqi official, but where will he run after Americans leave the country? What will happen with the country after they leave? It is clear to everyone that the United States went into Iraq under a far-fetched pretext and it was not a smart decision, but no one knows what is to be done with the war-torn country and elite forces of international terrorism that have flocked to Baghdad to take advantage of the American blunder."
by Pyotr Romanov
UPI Outside View Commentator
Moscow (UPI) Feb 05, 2007
It seems there is truly nothing new under the sun. Another explosion in Baghdad. Another terrorist attack in Israel. The Palestinian territories are once more on the brink of a civil war. The Clintons have set their sights for the White House. Even Marco Materazzi, the Italian football player, has been headbutted in a replay of last year's scandal.

Yet there are events that give zest even to these repetitions. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, a high-ranking representative of the new Iraqi government -- formally, a most reliable ally of U.S. President George W. Bush -- unabashedly described the U.S. intervention in his country as "idiocy."

This view has often been voiced by ordinary people and experts alike, but it was still unexpected from an official whose government is supported by U.S. bayonets.

Another deja vu has been brought on by antiwar protests in the United States. There were familiar faces on the screen, for example, Jane Fonda, who had protested against the war in Vietnam. Just like then, protesters demanded immediate withdrawal of American troops. I would like to side with them, but...

We could agree with the hard-hitting assessment of the Iraqi official, but where will he run after Americans leave the country? What will happen with the country after they leave? It is clear to everyone that the United States went into Iraq under a far-fetched pretext and it was not a smart decision, but no one knows what is to be done with the war-torn country and elite forces of international terrorism that have flocked to Baghdad to take advantage of the American blunder.

Like it or not, American invaders have become a containing factor in Iraq. Of course, they are still an evil, but it is a lesser evil compared to what can happen after they leave.

And there is more. Americans, no matter whether they are called invaders or the containing force, are trapped. As an American expert put it, right now, there are three gangs acting in Iraq, just like in a troubled city quarter. Sunnis are killing Shiites. Shiites join government forces in order to kill Sunnis, although they are no better. The third gang is American. It is stronger than the other two, but not strong enough to bring order to the streets. This is an example of real self-criticism.

Outside observers sympathize with different sides. Naturally, the death of innocent people causes the greatest outrage. Yet even Americans waging war in Iraq have their supporters. And it is easy to understand. After all, a U.S. Marine is taking blows that could be delivered in many other places, including Russia.

Still, it is a trap. And Americans cannot sit there forever. Soon, after the White House sees that the additional troops being sent to Iraq now have not changed the situation, they will try to break free.

The question is whether the Americans will move back or forward -- that is, facing the choice between retreating and leaving the country in chaos and their image in ruins, or regrouping and attracting both manpower and technical resources to the region in order to attack those who, as Washington sees it, encourage terrorism in Iraq. The targets are obvious, as they have been repeatedly named before: Iran and, perhaps, Syria.

Ground operations are ruled out: the United States is too bogged down in Iraq, but it can well try to strike Iran from the air. All the more so, as Tehran's behavior is far from sensible.

Having made a blunder in the beginning, the United States and its allies have become its hostages. All scenarios are bad. There is not a single good one in sight.

In chess, it is called a classic zugzwang: a situation when one of the parties has to make a poor, if not a losing move. I believe there is no need to say that George W. Bush is no Bobby Fischer.

Pyotr Romanov is a military commentator for the RIA Novosti news agency. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti.

United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

Bush Takes One More Gamble In The Mideast
Moscow (UPI) Feb 05, 2007
What if U.S. President George W. Bush's recently announced new strategy on Iraq proves to be not only a tactical election campaign trick but also a well thought-out operation to redress the situation and ensure a comfortable U.S. presence in the Middle East? The dispatch of two Marine battalions and five army brigades will not be a key point of this strategy.







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