Saturday, January 1, 2011

Iraq: all is not well

Eight years since the invasion, four years since the 'surge,' and roughly a half-year since the end of direct U.S. participation in combat operations, the situation in Iraq is far from what anyone would call normal. Some fifty thousand U.S. troops remain in the country. It took months to form a government after the last parliamentary elections, and recent suicide bombings in Ramadi and Mosul, the latter of which killed a police commander who had been on al-Qaeda's target list for a long time, show that violence remains an ever-present possibility in at least parts of the country. There is a tendency in a polity with a short attention span, in which category I would place the U.S., to assume that if an issue is not in the headlines every day, things must be fine. In the case of Iraq, that assumption is unwarranted.

Close to 4,000 civilians were killed by violence in Iraq last year; that's a reduction from the 2009 figure, but the Iraq Body Count, an organization which tracks this, says further reductions are, unfortunately, not likely.

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