The latest report from Chatham House, a UK think tank officially known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, hasn't caused much of a ripple in news circles. Accepting Realities in Iraq (get the full 12-page pdf here or a brief summary here) has largely been buried within the inside pages or at the bottom of other stories, though it has sparked some editorial notice. After all, the report isn't pretty, and does it really tell us anything that we didn't figure out a while ago?
There is not 'one' civil war, nor 'one' insurgency, but several civil wars and insurgencies between different communities in today's Iraq. Within this warring society, the Iraqi government is only one among many 'state-like' actors, and is largely irrelevant in terms of ordering social, economic, and political life. It is now possible to argue that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation.
Will it change any minds in Washington? One of the few newspapers to give the report big play, The Daily Star quotes US Ambassador Ryan Crocker in a much sunnier mood: "If I had to evaluate today, and looking purely at the security situation, as devastating as the Al-Qaeda-led chain of suicide vehicle attacks is, that does not in my mind suggest the failing of the state or of society." The Middle East-based English-language newspaper understatedly suggested that the US's highest ranking official in Iraq was "starkly at odds" with the think tank and "seemed to be responding directly to language in the Chatham House report."
Is anyone surprised?
Thanks to TomPaine.com for the tip.