Honestly, this is just an excuse to post this video of Sting’s Desert Rose…

From an op-ed in the Boston Globe:

…So, what happened? While British forces were struggling to suppress the violence, the parties and organizations operating on the public scene never felt the need to modify their behavio r. Militias were not defeated; they went underground or, more often, were absorbed into existing security forces. One resident after another told us they witnessed murders committed by individuals dressed in security force uniform. This, of course, with total impunity since the parties that infiltrate the security services also ensure that their own don’t get punished.

For militia members, it’s an easy call: By joining the security forces, they get a salary, government-paid weapons, and political cover to boot. Security services are divided along partisan lines. Fadhila — the governor’s party — controls the Oil Protection Force, responsible for safeguarding oil wells, refineries, and pipelines; the small Hizbollah party has a strong presence in the Customs Police Force; the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council dominates the intelligence service; and the Sadrists have penetrated the local police force.

Likewise, little was done to rebuild the city. Instead, the leading parties maintained their predatory practices, scrambling to take advantage of available public resources, contracts, or jobs. Oil contraband is an open secret, acknowledged even by a fighter in Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army, who told us that “when Moqtada al-Sadr met with representatives . . . in Basra, he scratched his nose and said, ‘ I smell the smell of gasoline’ — his way of accusing his own representatives of smuggling oil.” Fadhila siphons diesel off at the source; others drill holes into pipelines. The public sector as a whole is rife with corruption — instance of mammoth-sized projects that have delivered virtually nothing are legion — malfeasance and partisan hiring….

For Baghdad, the implications are as clear as they are ominous. Basra is a microcosm of the country as a whole, in its multiple and multiplying forms of violence. In the southern city, strife generally has little to do with sectarianism or anti-occupation resistance, both of which are far more prominent in the capital or Iraq’s center. Instead, it involves the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighbo rhood vigilantism, together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly are indistinguishable from political actors. This means that even should the armed opposition weaken, even should sectarian tensions abate, and even should the surge momentarily succeed, Basra’s fate is likely to be replicated throughout the country on a larger, more chaotic, and more dangerous scale.

Welcome to George Bush’s illusion.  Too bad Colin Powell didn’t step up and let the public know about the President’s delusional non-planning blinder vision before we sent American soldiers into a nation that we’ve now led down the path of chaos.  History is littered with the failures of fools and egos — unfortunately the consequences of such failures fall on soldiers and innocents and children on all sides.

It is time we started supporting the troops and their families with more than just a damned magnet and some empty words.  This proposal on the very real issues that soldiers face on their student loans while serving overseas is but one example of the myriad of issues they and their families are facing.  It is past time that the people who keep this war going stepped up to the plate and took responsibility for all of the problems they are leaving in their wake.  ALL of the problems.

(I’m looking at you, Joe Lieberman…)

NOTE:  Yes, we are having a server issue that is causing problems with commenting.  Many apologies for any inconvenience.  We’ll let you know as soon as things get resolved.  Also, H/T to reader WB for a couple of the links.

UPDATE:  Looks like comments may be up and running again.  Boo yah!