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The choice for Iraq

The turmoil in Iraq continues unabated.     It looks like Iraq will effectively be divided in some way or other.     What the Iraq War has wrought!

Dexter Filkins writing in The New Yorker, reflects on the current Iraqi PM and how long he can retain his position.

"Some leaders in both countries have said that the presence of even a small number of American troops, acting in non-combat roles, would help stabilize not just the military but Iraq as a whole, in part by helping to blunt the country’s sectarian dynamics. Whether or not this proves true, the actions that the President ordered will probably not prove decisive. Administration officials said that they were shocked not by the strength of isis, a group they have been tracking, but by the woeful performance of the Iraqi security forces. For the foreseeable future, the Iraqi Army is unlikely to be capable of retaking many of the areas lost to the militants.

In any case, the real questions are political, and they center on Maliki. Obama suggested that his offer of help would be determined by the progress the Iraqis make in knitting the country back together. The President didn’t say it, but he almost certainly wants Maliki to step down, and American diplomats in Baghdad appear to have begun signalling such a desire to other Iraqi leaders. This will be no easy thing. Maliki, whose self-regard has ballooned during his eight years in office, will very likely try to prevent his Shiite competitors from marshalling the support they need to unseat him. (As long as they can’t, he will remain in the job.) And he has very likely appealed to his backers in Iran, who have assisted him in his sectarian project. Removing Maliki would deal the Iranians a blow as well.

In 2003, when American troops first rolled into Baghdad, they destroyed the Iraqi state and its institutions; for the next eight and a half years they tried to build something to replace it. The truth is that the political system imposed on the Iraqis has never worked very well without substantial U.S. involvement; since the Americans left, it hasn’t worked at all. American diplomats and military advisers can’t save Iraq and they can’t govern it, but the decision by President Obama to return to Iraq amounts to a recognition that there was work left unfinished. It’s likely to be a long and difficult job."

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