This Just In: the war in Iraq is not over.
There has been plenty of news of late to obscure this fact, to be sure: GOP Senator Bunning of Kentucky single-handedly screwed hundreds of thousands of Americans with his obstructionism in the well of the Senate before finally backing down amid a storm of criticism. Kay Bailey Hutchinson failed to upend the sitting Texas governor's re-election bid, thanks in no small part to Tea Party sentimentality. The health care reform debate is back on the front burner, and the American people have been getting a half-assed education on what "reconciliation" means from news media people who can barely spell the word. Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has been in the Capitol building longer than the sink in the men's room, has taken a leave of absence from his committee chairmanship under a cloud of scandal.
It's all very interesting, and for reporters who adore writing about process instead of policy, or facts for that matter, there has been plenty of grist for the mill.
Press play to listen to author William Rivers Pitt read his column, " Out of Iraq? Maybe Not.":
Press play to listen to author William Rivers Pitt read his column, "Out of Iraq? Maybe Not.":
But there has also been this:
Even with Iraqi security forces on a heightened state of alert in advance of Sunday's national elections, dozens of Iraqis were killed on Wednesday in a devastating series of suicide bombings in the restive city of Baquba.
The attacks began with two car bombings near campaign offices and government buildings Then, as swarms of people rushed to hospitals, ferrying the dead and wounded and looking for relatives, a man hiding a suicide belt under a dirty white robe entered the emergency room, a local policeman said.
Grieving relatives screamed amidst the rubble, calling out the names of loved ones even as security officers scrambled to lock down the entire city. The attacks left at least 31 people dead and 55 wounded, according to local security officials. The attacks in Baquba were similar to the large bombings in Baghdad in recent months, with militants striking several targets in a coordinated and deadly fashion.
... and this:
Followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of starting "a psychological war" against them ahead of next week's parliamentary elections.
The accusations come amid increased speculation that the Sadrists could have an increased role in the new parliament, potentially receiving more votes than candidates from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) within the Iraqi National Alliance, al-Maliki's main Shiite Muslim competition.
... and this:
The civilian death toll in Iraq jumped to 211 people compared with the previous month, officials said on Monday, a sign of rising violence in the run-up to a March 7 parliamentary election. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen in the last two years, but a series of blasts in recent months shattered the peace before a national vote, seen as a crucial test as Iraq emerges from years of war, sanctions and sectarian slaughter. In January, 135 people died violent deaths.
On February 5, twin car bombs killed at least 40 people and wounded 145 others in Iraq's holy city of Kerbala as hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims observed a religious rite. Sunni Islamist insurgents such as al Qaeda and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party are still capable of staging devastating attacks. The attacks appear aimed to undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia-led government before the parliamentary election and highlight the shortcomings of the security forces.
... and this:
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb near a liquor shop killed the store's owner and wounded three people in western Baghdad, police said.
TARMIYA - A motorbike packed with explosives wounded nine people, including four policemen and two members of a government backed militia, in Tarmiya, 25 km (15 miles) north of Baghdad, an interior ministry source said.
YUSUFIYA - A roadside bomb went off near a market, wounding three people in the town of Yusufiya, 20 km (12 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
KHALDIYA - A car bomb targeting a member of Anbar's provincial council killed one civilian and wounded six others in Khaldiya, 85 km (50 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
KIRKUK - Police found the bullet-riddled body of a man wearing traditional Kurdish clothes in eastern Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD - A sticky bomb attached to a car wounded four people on Saturday in the Shula district of northwestern Baghdad, police said.
... and this:
The number of Iraqis killed in war-related violence increased by 44 percent between January and February, with civilians accounting for almost all of the casualties. The rise in killings raised doubts about the atmosphere before next Sunday's Iraqi election, which the United States hopes will produce a stable government that could ease withdrawal of American troops by the end of next year.
Casualty figures have fluctuated widely in recent months and are far below those seen in past years, when sectarian violence was rampant. But the rise in killings is reflected in numbers collected both by the Associated Press and by Iraqi authorities. At least 255 Iraqis were killed in war-related violence last month, according to an AP count, 44 percent more than the 177 reported in January. At least 383 Iraqis were killed in December and 93 in November, reflecting no clear trend.
The AP statistics also show that more violence was directed at civilians than at security personnel in February, compared with the previous three months. Ninety-three percent of those killed in February were civilians, compared with about two-thirds in November, December, and January.
George W. Bush, while he was in office, made it patently clear that the United States would be in Iraq until the Earth crashed into the sun, if he had his way. The reasons for this are, by now, patently clear: Republicans tend to win elections when people are afraid, wrapped in flags to support our troops, or both. Plus, George's buddies in the oil-and-defense industry have enjoyed galactic profits thanks to the ongoing conflict. Plus, he could not, or would not, admit to having made a blood-drenched error in judgment by pursuing a costly house-to-house urban war that delivered Iraq into the hands of neighboring Iran, because he's just not built for admitting error, and because any such admission might conclude with him and his merry men getting invited to spend some time in a small room with bars on the doors and windows in the Hague.
The election in Iraq is coming, and so there has been a detonation of violence in Iraq. President Obama inherited this nightmare from George and the boys, and campaigned heavily on getting the United States out of there by next year. Make no mistake: this is, was, and will always be Mr. Bush's war, but the sudden spike in death and destruction on the eve of Sunday's elections - according to the Smart Boys in the Pentagon and NSC, anyway - might wind up tossing Obama's removal plans into a cocked hat.
We should never have been there to begin with. We should not be there now. Let the word go forth from this time and place: we must be gone from there before another year passes. No matter the circumstances, we must go. Hundreds of Iraqi civilians have died since the New Year, as have ten American soldiers.
It is enough.