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The blame for Iraq

From an editorial Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Politics being what they are in this country, it was predictable that Democrats and Republicans would point fingers at each other when Sunni insurgents began taking over territory in Shiite-controlled Iraq.

It was George Bush’s fault for starting the 10-year war that left nearly 4,500 Americans dead and raised new fears about the future stability of the Middle East. It was President Obama’s fault for not insisting that a larger U.S. military force be left in Iraq after the war to discourage insurgents.

In reality, the man most responsible for Iraq’s situation is Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The deaths of all the American and Iraqi soldiers and civilians who lost their lives so the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein could be toppled could be in vain now because, rather than providing his nation with the truly democratic postwar leadership it needed, Maliki continued Saddam’s legacy of playing favorites.

The U.S.-equipped Iraqi army, derisively referred to as Maliki’s militia, has purged Sunnis from the officer corps and is despised in Sunni areas for its overzealous response to any unrest.

Now, insurgents have taken Mosul and Tal Afar, and with Iraq’s army putting up little resistance, Baghdad appears vulnerable. Stopping the advance will likely require some U.S. military support other than troops. But the Obama administration is right to tie any such aid to Maliki’s ending his repression of Sunnis. Otherwise, any peace will not last.

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