In January 2007, Condoleeza Rice said, “There’s still a tendency to see these things in Sunni-Shia terms. But the Middle East is going to have to overcome that.” And now, a year and a half later and despite the surge, no progress has been made in that area. The mainstream media is certainly in a “good news is no news” defeatist mode, and is always on the lookout for soldiers and Iraqis to say the kinds of things they say here, but there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of these statements given the fact that the Sunni-Shi’ite divide is fourteen centuries old, nothing has even kept a lid on it except brute force, and nothing has been done in Iraq to combat the jihad ideology or inculcate appreciation for the wonders of the republican government that the Wilsonian democracy project is devoted to instituting there. While the Administration works for democracy in Iraq, it does nothing to weaken to main force that will keep democracy from taking root there: the political aspect of Islam.
“A ‘surge’ unit sees change, but questions its permanence,” by Sam Dagher for the Christian Science Monitor, July 3 (thanks to James):
[…] In many regards, the plan worked. Violence dropped as about 30,000 extra US soldiers moved into combat outposts around Iraq starting in February 2007. Last month, the number of Iraqis killed was 515; last June, that figure was 3,000.
Still, while the 1/64 recognizes much progress during its tour, the majority of the more than dozen soldiers and officers interviewed question if their effort will have been worth it in the end. Many say their mission helped bring about only a lull in the sectarian killings and feel that neither the Iraqi government nor its forces are ready, capable, or even motivated to build on the successes of the surge.
“We have no control over what happens once we leave. No one is prepared to stay here 20 years of their lives to make sure this place stays good,” says Spc. Mark Webster, a native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., stationed at the neighborhood garrison of Adel. These combat outposts (COPS) have been scattered throughout Baghdad since the start of the surge. “We have accomplished things; we kept it at a general lull,” adds Specialist Webster.
Although the experience of the 1/64 applies to only one slice of Baghdad, many of the issues and challenges it has grappled with are similar to those confronting other units in Baghdad and in other restive provinces — Anbar, Diyala, and Nineveh — where most of the surge units were deployed. […]
On a recent house-to-house search in Adel by members of the 1/64, accompanying Iraqi soldiers seemed more interested in chatting and texting on their cellphones than the mission at hand.
“It’s tiring. It has been five years. Now it’s called knock-and-search instead of raids. A lot of the [Iraqi] soldiers do not want to do their jobs,” grumbles Staff Sgt. Jose Benavides from Miami. “If the Americans leave, the sectarian violence will flare up.”
In one stately Adel villa, Iman Marouf says she’s “guarding” the house for its absent Shiite owners. No Shiites have dared return to the neighborhood since a bombing last month targeted some who had come back.
“Fear consumes people. Hearts are still filled with fear,” says Mrs. Marouf, gesturing emotionally.
Her sister, Jinan Marouf, adds: “All this calm is temporary, trust me. If we get someone like Saddam Hussein back, Iraq will be itself again. We need someone with his control.” […]