US military insists that Iraq is not on the brink of civil war
I agree with them on this point, in fact. I think it's already in civil war. Just because you don't have Iraqis dressing up in either blue or gray uniforms doesn't mean there's no civil war.
A major Shiite shrine was destroyed yesterday, and despite the calls by some religious leaders not to do so, there have been numerous retaliatory attacks on Sunni religious sites. Americans are trying to tie this to the group al Qaeda in Iraq, but I'm skeptical. I mean, it may well have been al Qaeda in Iraq who entered the shrine dressed as policemen and blew it up, but it could have been anyone interested in sparking sectarian violence. The US is getting a load of the blame for this mess, too. And really, this couldn't have happened if we hadn't attacked Iraq and left it blown open like this.
The hell of it is that it doesn't matter who blew up this shrine, the thousand-year-old Imam Ali al-Hadi mausoleum, something akin to blowing up Notre Dame Cathedral. It doesn't matter because much blame, fairly or unfairly, is going to be directed toward the occupying forces, and much punishment is going to be directed to both those forces and to, well, Shiites and Sunnis, which sure sounds like a civil war to me.
Typically an occupying army keeps the peace in a civil war by supporting one side or the other. The United States has no interest in doing that, and picking a side would be as bad a move as not picking a side. In sum: there's no nice solution to this, and I'd like any American who complained that the United States didn't "finish the job" in 1991 to come forward and explain to me just what "finishing the job" would entail. I'm waiting. But don't worry: I won't hold my breath.