THE BLOG
01/11/2008 10:35 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 1/11/08

PRESIDENT BUSH IS DETACHED FROM REALITY

Bush: U.S. could "easily" be in Iraq for 10 years. On Friday, Bush was asked about recent comments by Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain that it would be fine with him to have a U.S. military presence in Iraq for 100 years. "That's a long time," Bush replied, adding that there "could very well be" a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq at the invitation of the government in Baghdad. When asked if it could be 10 years, Bush replied: "It could easily be that, absolutely." [Reuters, 1/11/08]

BUSH'S IRAQ POLICY HAS WEAKENED AMERICA'S SECURITY

The US continues to sink national security resources into Iraq at the expense of other threats, including Al Qaeda and its safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The heavy focus on military tactics has exacerbated rather than lessened tensions between Iraq's competing factions and has failed to resolve the country's power-sharing disputes. Iraq at the start of 2008 is even more bitterly divided along ethnic and sectarian lines than it was at the start of 2007, increasing the possibility that the recent declines in violence may be a temporary lull. The Bush administration's 2007 approach has built a shaky and combustible foundation. Providing support to multiple Iraqi security forces without serious advances on Iraq's political reconciliation risks even higher levels of conflict in 2008 and beyond. [Center for American Progress, 1/10/08]

The Bush Administration's policy has created "four ticking time bombs" that highlight the the damage done to internal Iraqi reconciliation and U.S. national security by the president's ill-considered "surge" strategy. Four ticking time bombs to watch closely in Iraq in the coming months. All four are issues that U.S. troops on the ground cannot resolve, but require increased diplomatic intervention. Those time bombs are:

• The collapse of "bottom up" reconciliation among Sunnis
• Increased instability in northern Iraq
• The continuing plight of refugees and internally displaced Iraqis
• Continued deadlock among Iraq's national political leaders

All four of these issues are potentially explosive and could shatter hopes of Iraqi political reconciliation--the original goal of the Bush "surge" strategy. [Center for American Progress, 1/10/08]

ONE YEAR LATER, THE WISDOM OF THE SURGE IS CALLED INTO QUESTION

Ret. Army Gen. Douglas MacGregor, "Could we have actually made matters worse in the long term?" Despite the lull in violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, the surge's ultimate political objective -- national reconciliation between Iraq's three major ethnic and sectarian groups -- remains as distant as ever. There is also a debate has broken out over how much the recent decline in violence was due to the surge itself. It is likely that factors such as the decision of key Sunni tribal groups to ally with the U.S. against extremists, as well as the decision by Shi'a cleric Moqtada al Sadr to order his Mahdi Army to stand down, have also played a roll in the dip in violence. Meanwhile, even Petraeus, cautions that declarations of victory are premature, not only because of the scheduled withdrawal of the 30,000 surge troops over the next six months, but also because the tactics he has employed have not yet translated into real progress at the national level in achieving the reconciliation that Bush set as the strategic objective one year ago. Earlier this week, the Pentagon's top Middle East aide, Mark Kimmitt said that 2008 will likely be "far more difficult" than 2007 because Washington will have to "depend far more on the Iraqis themselves" to achieve reconciliation. He rated the chances of sustaining the security gains achieved during the past year at only "50-50." [IPS, 1/10/08]

TENSIONS HIGH ON THE IRAQ'S NORTHERN BORDER WITH TURKEY

According to Kurds, the Turkish army shelled the Iraq border area. On Friday, the Turkish Army hit areas across the border in northern Iraq with artillery fire, a Kurdish border guard official said. The attack is part of the continued Turkish assault on suspected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq. [AFP, 1/10/08]