The Bush administration has still more work to do in screwing up the Middle East and fomenting terrorism and Jihadism. Noah Schachtman notes the following developments in Anbar:

Sunni political and tribal leaders are increasingly throwing in their lot with U.S. forces here against Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent types. But, to get them to come over to our side, the American military has fed them a steady diet of anti-Shi'ite propaganda.

Arrests and killings of Shi'ite militants are announced from loudspeaker blasts; President Bush’s bellicose rhetoric towards Shi'a Iran is reported on friendly radio programs.

It makes sense if we are girding for a war with Iran. Having dismembered Iraq, the Bushies may now have an interest in polarizing it, as they have polarized the US. Rather than trying to stop a sectarian regional war, Cheney may be simply deciding to join it. The goal is to restrain Iran's growing clout. Eric Martin sees the danger. Rob Farley fears the worst. Hilzoy adds:

One interpretation that [Martin] doesn't consider is that we're supporting the militias in Anbar not just for the short term political benefits (having some progress for General Petraeus to report, etc.), but also to placate our various Sunni allies, who would presumably not be happy if we simply left the Iraqi Sunnis to the tender mercies of their adversaries. This would be short-sighted and strategically incoherent -- we are, after all, also trying to strengthen the Maliki government, which is to say the future enemy of the Sunnis we are apparently not just training but inciting to hatred. But I don't see that that's any reason to think that it's not exactly what the Bush administration is doing.

It's back to the 1980s. Instead of backing Saddam against Iran, we're now in danger of backing the Iraqi Sunnis, in league with Egypt and Saudi Arabia ... against Iran The border of the conflict has simply moved from the Iraq-Iran border to the middle of Iraq. And this time, we have 160,000 soldiers trapped in the middle. Yay! Just because it is hard to imagine how the situation in Iraq could get worse doesn't mean that Cheney isn't figuring out ways to do it. He's got more than a year to foment more chaos and bloodshed and sectarian hatred and anti-American hatred. Give him time.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.