November 01, 2006
|"Edging Toward Chaos"||Iraq|
The NYT today published a classified CENTCOM assessment that portrays Iraq as moving steadily closer to chaos, with "violence at all-time high":
A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict.
A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18 briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the military command that oversees the war is trying to track its trajectory, particularly in terms of sectarian fighting.
The slide includes a color-coded bar chart that is used to illustrate an "Index of Civil Conflict." It shows a sharp escalation in sectarian violence since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and tracks a further worsening this month despite a concerted American push to tamp down the violence in Baghdad.
In fashioning the index, the military is weighing factors like the ineffectual Iraqi police and the dwindling influence of moderate religious and political figures, rather than more traditional military measures such as the enemy’s fighting strength and the control of territory.
The conclusions the Central Command has drawn from these trends are not encouraging, according to a copy of the slide that was obtained by The New York Times. The slide shows Iraq as moving sharply away from "peace," an ideal on the far left side of the chart, to a point much closer to the right side of the spectrum, a red zone marked "chaos." As depicted in the command's chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.
An intelligence summary at the bottom of the slide reads "urban areas experiencing 'ethnic cleansing' campaigns to consolidate control" and "violence at all-time high, spreading geographically." [...]
One significant factor in the military's decision to move the scale toward "chaos" was the expanding activity by militias.
Another reason was the limitations of Iraqi government security forces, which despite years of training and equipping by the United States, are either ineffective or, in some cases, infiltrated by the very militias they are supposed to be combating. The slide notes that "ineffectual" Iraqi police forces have been a significant problem, and cites as a concern sectarian conflicts between Iraqi security forces.
Other significant factors are in the political realm. The slide notes that Iraq's political and religious leaders have lost some of their moderating influence over their constituents or adherents. [...]
[F]or a military culture that thrives on PowerPoint briefings, the shifting index was seen by some officials as a stark warning about the difficult course of events in Iraq, and mirrored growing concern by some military officers.
Shorter version: everything the White House has been saying about Iraq is a lie. It's getting worse. Iraqi security forces will never be in a position to "stand up" so US forces can "stand down". The Iraqi "unity government" is a Green Zone fiction. It will all end in chaos. What then?