The figure was shocking in itself--3,438 civilian deaths in Iraq in the month of July from sectarian strife:
An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed each day in July, according to the figures. The total number of civilian deaths that month, 3,438, is a 9 percent increase over the tally in June and nearly double the toll of January.
But consider. That is more civilian Iraqis killed in July than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, 2,997. And if July represented a 9% increase over June, then 3,125 civilians were killed in June, also more than in the 9/11 attacks. Is it any wonder that the Iraqis have not shown more support for the American invasion and occupation of their country?
Even as Bush professes that there will be no policy changes despite flagging support for the war at home and intensified criticism, the ever-astute William Arkin sees it differently. Noting that Ambassador Khalilizad made no mention of "democracy" in his latest remarks on Iraq, the new story line seems to be that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq. Arkin comments,
Having discussed this and debated it with many a Pentagon and administration thinker, Khalilizad's comments track precisely with where the Bush administration is truly headed: Out of Iraq.
The Bush adminstration's plan -- sensible and diabolical at the same time -- is to draw down U.S. forces in Iraq to Afghanistan-sized levels in order to fight "al Qaeda," the new enemy.
It is hard to discern such a strategy--or any strategy at all--in the latest news from Iraq, but our leaving could hardly make the situation worse, as the public has finally figured out. Consider this an open thread.