Front-paged at BoomanTribune.com.

Larry Johnson, a counterterrorism expert and former CIA/State Dept. analyst frequently seen on cable news, spares no punches this morning:

President Bush and Vice President Cheney need to get a grip on reality. The happy talk about the "fading" insurgency in Iraq ignores some harsh realities that bode ill for the future of U.S. interests in the Middle East. The truth is simple--we are fighting an insurgency in the midst of a civil war.

How's that for straight talk?

As the Columbia Journalism Review pointed out yesterday, the lack of a grip on reality extends to the press which is reporting the "civil war" angle as if it were something new. CJR calls it "trend-heavy groupthink."

There's more, much more, from Larry Johnson today:

The Columbia Journalism Review asserts:
Truth be told, the idea that the violence in Iraq is devolving into a civil war is nothing new. In fact, intelligence analysts, military officials and U.S. Senators have been warning of civil war for quite some time. It's just that at the moment the Times, and a few other news outlets, are circling back to the premise as if it were a fresh one.

Johnson discusses the sectarian civil war which "pits Sunni against Shia" and the role of Iranian intelligence officers who are providing "money, intelligence, training, and hit teams" to the Shia:

Iran's specialty during the past 25 years was organizing assassination teams that targeted opposition leaders. They are now bringing this skill to the streets of Baghdad. In recent weeks there has been a surge inviolence against Sunnis who have not been cooperating with the current Iraqi Government. Clerics are being murdered.

In many cases the Iraqi security forces are comprised of Shia personnel who in turn are being used to conduct counter insurgency operations in Sunni neighborhoods. This would be akin to sending Irish Protestant soldiers into an Irish Catholic neighborhood in Dublin. It fuels sectarian strife.

"The celebrity terrorist Zarqawi," writes Johnson, "believes it more important to kill Shias than 'crusaders'. But Zarqawi is not the heart of the Sunnit insurgency." (We'd figured that out too, hadn't we.)

There are former Bathists as well as genuine Iraqi nationalists who loathe outside interference. Accordingly these Sunnis are fighting aggressively against Iraqis allied with the United States and US forces.

Johnson's views of Iraq and the U.S. occupation are grim:

The situation is gradually slipping from our control because the US is politically and militarily unable to commit more troops to fight the counter insurgency.

More troops. Yup, that's what Johnson sees as the critical problem.

Johnson intelligently lays out a number of practical objectives that would ameliorate the problems in Iraq -- from "Free and safe movement throughout Baghdad to enjoy restaurants without fear of being kidnapped or murdered" to "Control of the lines of communication and critical infrastructure." Check out his full list of objectives. Here are more:

Safe movement from downtown to the international airport with minimal risk of an ambush.

Safe landings by international air carriers at the international airport without facing attacks from surface to air missiles.

Security for the Iraqi people who choose to align themselves with the US-backed coalition.

Control of the borders to minimize the infiltration of insurgents and supplies to insurgent forces. ...

But, Johnson says in conclusion:

These are goals the United States can accomplish. But meeting these objectives requires more manpower, in other words, boots on the ground, in order to achieve them.

Sadly no one is willing to put more forces into the mix.

As a result the insurgency will remain vibrant and the civil war will expand. The odds favor a Shia victory and the eventual emergence of the second Shia state in the Middle East. That issue, however, is grist for another post.

Update [2005-6-3 12:49:49 by SusanHu]:

From Arab News's Sarah Whalen:

‘Baghdad Bob’ Was Not Wide of the Mark, Was He?

In the heady days of the Second Iraq War, when the West seemed to be winning Bush’s “war on terror,” Westerners laughed at Baghdad Bob, more formally known as Mohammed “no tanks” Saeed Al-Sahhaf, Saddam’s minister of information. Al-Sahhaf’s cocksure pronouncements of Iraqi military victory against US “coalition” forces — always made with an air of studied casualness — had then a hilarity about them that spawned endless jokes.

But that was then. This is now.

And now, Al-Sahhaf seems almost prescient in his predictions about how the war would progress. He was incredulous when asked about Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz’s predicitions, made by way of their unimpeachable source, Ahmad Chalabi, that Iraqis would welcome US troops with flowers, kisses, and candy: “We will welcome them with bullets and shoes,” he assured reporters. And the West laughed. But that was then. This is now.

When asked how Iraqi officials would handle the coalition invaders, Baghdad Bob cordially replied, “They are most welcome” to enter Iraq. “We will butcher them.” The West sneered.

But that was then. This is now. ... Read all.

Originally posted to SusanHu on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 07:32 AM PDT.

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