01 November 2006

Measuring Chaos

New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — A classified briefing
prepared two weeks ago by the United States
Central Command portrays Iraq as edging
toward chaos, in a chart that the military is
using as a barometer of civil conflict.

A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18
briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the
military command that oversees the war is
trying to track its trajectory, particularly in
terms of sectarian fighting.

The slide includes a color-coded bar chart
that is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil
Conflict.” It shows a sharp escalation in
sectarian violence since the bombing of a
Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and
tracks a further worsening this month
despite a concerted American push to tamp
down the violence in Baghdad.


One significant factor in the military’s
decision to move the scale toward “chaos”
was the expanding activity by militias.

Another reason was the limitations of Iraqi
government security forces, which despite
years of training and equipping by the
United States, are either ineffective or, in
some cases, infiltrated by the very militias
they are supposed to be combating. The
slide notes that “ineffectual” Iraqi police
forces have been a significant problem,
and cites as a concern sectarian conflicts
between Iraqi security forces.

Other significant factors are in the political
realm. The slide notes that Iraq’s political
and religious leaders have lost some of their
moderating influence over their constituents
or adherents.

Notably, the slide also cites difficulties that
the new Iraqi administration has experienced
in “governance.” That appears to be shorthand
for the frustration felt by American military
officers about the Iraqi government’s delays in
bringing about a genuine political reconciliation
between Shiites and Sunnis. It also appears to
apply to the lack of reconstruction programs to
restore essential services and the dearth of job
creation efforts to give young Iraqis an
alternative to joining militias, as well as the
absence of firm action against militias.

Meanwhile, over 100 American troops were killed in Iraq
last month -- trapped in the middle of this nightmare as
the country rips itself apart from all ends.

No WMD. No democracy. No security.

Just chaos.

Had Enough?