Will Petraeus' Imperial Delusions Prolong Iraq's Civil War?
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Gen. Petraeus is clearly convinced that Iraq needs US troops to shore up the government and security. He has done the most responsible job yet seen by an American official in Iraq in trying to end the carnage. He has made bazaars no drive zones to stop the car bombings. He has surrounded city districts with blast walls to keep out insurgents. He has reached out to the Sunnis (though alas the Shiite government has not). He has done what he could, but it hasn't been enough. There really is little sign of political reconciliation.
Al-Maliki started out with a national unity government. He had Sunnis in his cabinet. He had Sadrists in his cabinet. Islamic Virtue Party. Iraqi National List. All gone. His government is more fractured and less representative than before the surge began!
What if the US military presence is juvenilizing the Iraqis and prolonging the civil war? Over 900 Iraqis were killed in political violence in March, the highest number since September.
Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and is author of the forthcoming "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East."