I fear the cycle of civil war is now beyond our control - or anyone's control. Here's an email from an American soldier in Northern Iraq about the fast-deteriorating situation:
Baghdad has descended into complete anarchy, as near as I can tell. We have police investigators in Northern Iraq who are scared to drive down there to attend an IPS investigator's course for fear that they will be stopped by Sunni or Shia checkpoints and killed. And these guys are police! I imagine the situation is terrible for ordinary citizens.
This is the dark side of the big shift in the U.S. strategy/presence over the last year. As we've reduced our forces, disengaged from the cities, and consolidated on massive super-FOBs like Balad and Camp Victory, we have lost the ability to impose our will on the streets of Iraq. At this point, I don't know how effective U.S. forces can/will be in imposing order. We just don't have the combat power, nor the presence in the city, nor the right mix of constabulary and civil affairs units. It's frustrating.
And so one of the biggest military fiascoes in American history lurches toward another down-draft.