The Shiite quagmire

This Washington Post story claims that “U.S. planners” are surprised by the strength of Iraqi Shiites, and at a loss as to how to deal with the Shiites’ unexpected strength. It is certainly possible that this is the case. Statements by President Bush and others have expressed a far too sanguine view of “the religion of peace,” and it may be that Bush and others actually believed what they said in this regard. However, it is at least as possible that the U.S. planners who matter are not nearly as surprised and helpless as the Post suggests. After all, it was not that long ago that the Post was reporting on alleged U.S. military miscalculations in the war against Saddam Hussein. Moreover, the sources for the latest story about miscalcuations may well be the same as the sources for the embarrassing stories about our misguided approach to the war, namely State Department officials with large axes to grind.

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