The trouble with applying the Pottery Barn analogy–referring to the cards informing shoppers that if they break something in the store, they’ll have to buy it–to Iraq is that while the United States bears responsibility for “breaking” Iraq, and the U.S. can’t just throw away a nation like broken ceramics, it presumes the the U.S. can and must fix what it broke. “Fixing” Iraq, however, takes more than glue and the ability to align shards like a jigsaw puzzle.
General George Casey, commander of U.S. and allied forces in Iraq, was on the hot seat yesterday, testifying before senators on the readiness of Iraqi troops and the prospects for a U.S. pullout. “[O]nly one battalion of Iraqi soldiers is fully prepared to operate without help from U.S. troops” and insurgents have been retaking towns following U.S. offensives, because Iraqi forces are not prepared to maintain security. Prospects for a U.S. pullout depend on “a referendum on a draft constitution Oct. 15 and elections for a permanent government scheduled for mid-December.”
Casey acknowledged that the political environment could deteriorate further if a majority of Sunni Muslims vote against the constitution next month. The minority sect controlled Iraq under Saddam Hussein, a Sunni who was toppled after the March 2003 U.S. invasion, but Shiites and Kurds have asserted power as the country tries to move toward democratic rule.
“As we’ve look at this, we’ve looked for the constitution to be a national compact, and the perception now is that it’s not, particularly among the Sunni,” Casey said.
[Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld added, “Current indication . . . is that a majority of the Sunnis will vote against it.”