I don't have any evidence for it, but I believe that interest in the war in Iraq is waning in the US. We're the nation that invented the short attention span, and when combined with the media's decision to milk higher ratings from home grown disasters over foreign ones, I think Iraq is going the way of Afghanistan. Not for progressives, military families or Halliburton employees of course, but the former two are only tiny focus groups, and the latter can afford all the mercenaries they need to keep the looting, I mean cash flow moving along nicely for the duration of the war.
One of the reasons for the decline in interest Americans show for the war's progress probably is ignorance. Even progressives who read Cole daily would be hard-pressed to name all the players in Iraq, and properly contextualize their history and relationships to one another. Joe Sixpack and Susie Soccer Mom certainly aren't interested in looking deeper into the messy details of the WoT, if they were then the "all A-rabs are terra-ists" and "the only good haji is a dead haji" narrative of the last four years wouldn't have worked so well. I'm an educator, and in the spirit of helping all Americans better understand what's really going on, I offer this excellent piece from Robert Dreyfuss:
Just when it didnâ€™t seem like Iraq could get any worseâ€”it gets worse.
This time, itâ€™s the simmering battle between two Shiite paramilitary armies: the forces of the Badr Brigade, the 20,000-strong force controlled by the Iranian-supported Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and the Mahdi Army, the thousands-strong force that worships the fanatical Muqtada Al Sadr. The battle, which might flare into a Shiite-Shiite civil war in advance of the October 15 referendum on Iraqâ€™s divisive, rigged constitution, could put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush administrationâ€™s Iraq policy.
It shouldnâ€™t be a news flash that neither one of these Shiite forces is led by â€œgood guys.â€ Itâ€™s a mafia-style war between two descendants of Iraqâ€™s leading ayatollah-led families, the Sadrs and the Hakims, who donâ€™t exactly express affection for each other. Beginning in the 1950s, with the overthrow of the king of Iraq in 1958, the Sadr and Hakim clans mobilized Iraqâ€™s Shiites in a struggle against Iraqi nationalists, the Baath Party, and the communists. It was then that the Sadr-Hakim mafia founded Al Dawa, the militant, terrorist-included theocratic party which still exists, out of which Prime Minister Jaafari emerged. In more recent years, the Sadr faction and the Hakim faction became like Hatfields and McCoys, feudingâ€”with guns.
Keep in mind, this piece only deals with Shiite factions; if you truly want to understand Iraq you need to know about Kurds, Sunnis, secular modernists like the Communists, the exile community, and of course at least a tiny bit about Iran and Syria, two neighbors who've had a finger in the Iraqi pie since well before the war. But this is a good start, and I'd recommend any other of Mr. Dreyfuss' work that you can find around the net.
We're going to fail in Iraq, I have no doubt of that. There will be no true functioning democracy, and whatever government which holds onto power for more than six months at a time will only loosely control whole sectors of Iraq in which the population doesn't share the religious/social/family loyalties of the ruling class. The damage brought about by the war is more than monetary or to the infrastructure, we've slaughtered a whole segment of a population, including women and children, guaranteeing a generation of Iraqis who will have ingrained in their minds and hearts a deep and abiding sense of hatred. That hatred could take on any form, and if you need help imagining what will happen in twenty years time, google/dogpile the terms "Pol Pot" and Mujahadeen" and "Rwanada." The presence of all that oil also means that Western powers (and Eastern) will continue to artificially sustain puppet organizations and lesser factions with cash and arms.
My sad vision of Iraq is akin to a rich, dying old woman, raped and battered by her "friends" and children, kept alive artificially by "well meaning" neighbors, who lies mute on a bed of pain as lawyers, priests and politicians rip her estate apart like jackals, each faction seeking ultimately only her money, and caring nothing for her dignity, comfort, or helpless young grandchildren who stand by her bedside weeping in rage and fear for their future.
Those grandchildren shall grow up, and in time, we will meet them as adults as they knock on our door, bearing the true fruits of our labors today. And we will not care for the bitter taste, which they will ensure we partake of, in cold, bloody bites.