Thursday, January 27, 2005

All the News That's Glaringly Obvious

When American troops entered Baghdad and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein 21 months ago, Raad al-Naqib felt free at last.

But Dr. Naqib, a 46-year-old Sunni dentist who opposed Mr. Hussein, will not vote Sunday when Iraqis will have their first opportunity in a generation to participate in an election with no predetermined outcome. It is, he said, far too dangerous when insurgent groups have warned that they will kill anybody who approaches a polling station.

Starkly put, Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military.

From the New York Times, this morning.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but: what was their first clue?

On the bright spring day in April 2003 when marines helped topple Mr. Hussein's statue in Firdos Square, Baghdad, more than any other place in Iraq, was the place American commanders hoped to make a showcase for the benefits the invasion would bring.

Instead, daily life here has become a deadly lottery, a place so fraught with danger that one senior American military officer acknowledged at a briefing last month that nowhere in the area assigned to his troops could be considered safe.

I suppose one should be grateful they are finally mentioning this. But still, it raises the question: why didn't they mention this last October? Has anything really changed since then? Was there some empirical, or even vaguely sensible, reason to believe the Bush Administration had a rabbit, or even a hat to pull it out of?

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