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March 28th, 2008
05:48 PM ET

In Iraq, another defining moment?

BAGHDAD

Baghdad, Iraq: Smoke rises from the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses the U.S. embassy and Iraqi government after it was hit by a barrage of mortars

Today during a press conference with the Australian press conference, President Bush underscored the significance of the latest explosion of violence in Iraq by calling it “a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq.” The much maligned Iraqi forces desperately need a military success as the lead force, but U.S. troops are being drawn deeper into the conflict.

President Bush also said “any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements.” Yet many believe that the very same group with which the U.S. and Iraq signed a cease-fire  - Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia – are such criminal elements. 

But what exactly is - and who defines  - a “criminal element” in a country where it’s hard to distinguish between foe and friend from day to day?

What are the consequences if the current burst of fighting spreads beyond the oil-rich city of Basra? Does the intra-fighting among Shiites undermine the Administration’s argument that al Qaeda and Sunni extremists represent the greatest threat to stability? Is the potential civil war rising, in the struggle for power among Shiites? What if the Iraqi forces  - with American aid - squash the militias and restore order: Would Iraqi forces finally be able to “stand up” and allow American forces to “stand down?” 

Exactly what’s at stake right now? 

– Eric Bloom, 360° Producer


Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. R

    I don't know, you tell me.

    March 31, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  2. SUSAN

    WHAT ARE WE STILL DOING IN IRAQ . OUR MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED LONG AGO,REMEMBER! IT IS UNFORTINATE BUT THIS COUNTRY WILL BECOME A BLOODY CIVIL WAR WHENEVER WE CHOOSE TO LEAVE NOW OR IN 50 YEARS. PLEASE DEFINE WHAT VICTORY IS AND LET US ACCOMPLISH IT AND THEN LEAVE. BE REALISTIC THERE WILL NEVER BE A DEMOCRATIC CAPITALIST COUNTRY IN IRAQ. mY BROTHER SAYS GIVE EVERYONE 10,000.00 AND A VIDEO GAMING SYSTEM AND SOME CHEAP CHINEESE GOODS AND THE PEOPLE WOULD STAY BUSY AND STOP FIGHTING. PUT THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ IN CHARGE OF BUILDING UP THEIR NATION IT BUILDS PRIDE AND GIVES A PURPOSE AND GENERATES INCOME TO THE MASSES WHERE THEY MAY HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE. IT IS ALL UP TO THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ,IN WHAT DIRECTION THEIR COUNTRY MOVES. AFTER SO MUCH DEATH AND DESTRUCTION I HOPE THAT THEY KEEP MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND STAND UP FOR THEIR COUNTRY. WE NED TO BRING OUR BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN BACK HOME.,AND FOCUS ON REBUILDING OUR MILITARY AGAINST ANY POSSIBLE FUTURE ATTACKS. A WORD ABOUT PRIVATE CONTRACTORS DOING MILITARY WORK AND HANDLING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY BAD BAD VERY BAD.

    March 31, 2008 at 12:12 am |
  3. Sharon

    What a terrible mess !! This is what happens when military action is taken but there are no strategy set for what goals we need to achieve or what length of time we intend to continue the military action.

    We jumped into this war inside Iraq first on wrong intelligence, and then once the discovery was made that there were no wepons of distruction we never the less continued military action without defining a goal which we intended to achieve and then depart.

    Therefore we keep fighting without ever knowing at what point it will be considered satisfactory to withdraw. There will win be a clear WIN for the USA in Iraq. We are missing the policy goals and strategy as to what we intend to do and how long we intend to spend trying to do it.

    March 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  4. Karin

    ah the 'defining moment' brings back memories of... other 'defining moments.. ' that weren't THAT defining after all. I don't think that there will be a quick and easy solution to all this. Cheney and Rumsfeld made a huge horrible mistake to go into Iraq, but that's done so now not only the American people but the world have to live with the consequences. I personally think that pulling troops out will be the smartest thing to do (but hey that hasnt stopped the administration in the past) I sure wouldn't want to be among the ones that are going to be there the longest. I think that Bush and Cheney should go on their knees!!! and ask NATO if they will PLEASE help them. They should give power and leadership with regards to this war to NATO and back off, because obviously they don't have the brainpower to handle this.

    March 30, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Taj

    We are back to square 1. Nur Maliki neither has the charm nor capacity to bring the situation under control. This internal politics of shiite vs shiites, shiites vs sunnis, Kurds vs sunnis, Kurds vs Turks cannot be resolved easily. US can do nothing. US should never have gone there. Now we are there, we should plan on getting out as early as possible. We are wasting our resources.

    March 30, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  6. mike (sc)

    I think george bush is delusional, he tries to tell us its our job to support these people while we go broke. while he and his minons try to make a case to go to iran next. its time to make this govt of iraq stand up so we can get out ! bush went in with now plan and not listening to anyone he is the idiot that got us in to this but we have to get out. the people dont want this govt now in power cause they view it as not a elected govt by the iraq people but set up by george bush. its time for them to be made to stand up for themselves so our troops can come home. But we cant have that happen when you have senators like gomer grahm from south carolina and lieberman willing to give their votes away to further bush mccain policy. I guess those two senators would do just that be bushes lap dog and now mccains you have to wonder is it lack of common sense or just trying for a job in the new admin???

    March 30, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  7. Barry, IL

    It's puzzling to hear that President Bush calls the current conflict in Iraq as a mark of progress. Actually, it marks regress than progress. The current government of Iraq is dominated by Shiites. The recent conflict is between Shiite-dominated government of Al Maliki and another Shiite "warlord", Al Sadr. If this conflict continues over a long time, it will further erode the already weak cohesion within the Shiites. The internally weakened Shiites cannot form sustainable unity with Sunnis and Kurds for desired peace in Iraq for the long run.
    Our president's remarks also imply there is a military solution to the crisis-Al Maliki's government is strong enough to crush so-called Al Sadr's army. This is defying the mover and shaker of politics of the land: revenge. Iraqi interest groups thrive and live on revenge politics.

    The only day we should celebrate as a mark of sucess in Iraq is the day internal cohesion and external workable unity is achieved within and among Shiites,Sunnis, and Kurds. The internal war among and within the groups only marks back to square one, not achievement over the long run.

    March 30, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  8. Alex

    Claudia, I agree with you 150%. America is America, Iraq is Iraq. They need to sort their country out for themselves, and if they cannot do so, then that's their problem. America needs to focus on America, not Iraq. If Iraq decides to practice an act of ism, let them be dealth with in America, and that should be the end of it. If John McCain is elected, he's going to finish the process for Bush, and Bush Jr., and make America a 3rd world country. President George W. Bush was a good president, but somewhere alone the line, he became corrupted. Judging a president has nothing to do with experience, because it's experience of the old, and we want change. John McCain can't even remember most of the Iraqui groups, and their territories, and that bring the big question we all want the answer to: "What on earth is America fighting for in Iraq?"

    March 29, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  9. MBG

    Deborah writes "Why isn’t there constant dribble about how the latest events in Iraq will affect John McCain”s campaign since his success is so closely tied to the war and the “success” of the surge!"

    The answer is easy: McCain is a white Republican, which gives him a double advantage over Barack Obama with the pundits on CNN. Anderson Cooper and the rest of the news media are going to try to sell McCain to the public as the straight-talkin' mavick who's an expert on foreign policy.

    If the public gets suckered by the news media into buying McCain's song and dance like they were suckered by the media into the Iraq war, the consequences are going to be even more disastrous. We just can't afford McCain's plan to continue this war forever and start a new one with Iran. And we really can't afford these alleged "pundits" anymore. Their mendacity is killing our country.

    March 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  10. Claudia

    The U.S. has been playing a cat and mouse game with Iraqi people for 7 years with deadly and economic consequences. There will be no resolve in Iraq as long as there is U.S. interference. Iraq's cultural differences does not and will not allow change by force. Let those people have their country back and let the chips fall where they may.

    March 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  11. Deborah

    Why isn't there constant dribble about how the latest events in Iraq will affect John McCain"s campaign since his success is so closely tied to the war and the "success" of the surge! Is it really more important to constantly play loop after loop after loop of Jeremiah Wright and analyze every word he says and talk about racism in America ad nauseum????? Come on!!! You're missing a real opportunity hear!!!! According to George Bush and George Bush, Jr. things were going, as we say here in the south ...."ga...raate"

    March 29, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  12. Glenneth

    People have likened Iraq to Vietnam many times, but our historical lesson from that war is pulling out and leaving a power vacuum can cost 1,000,000 people their lives. Are we a country that learns from our lessons or takes the easy way out(again)? Thats the defining question and I fear the answer.

    March 29, 2008 at 2:24 am |
  13. Charles

    We go to war in Iraq mistakenly or for some purpose, lets leave this debatable matter aside. We ruin their country, we should also ponder over this. It is not unpatriotic to think in this way. Of course we think about our boys who died because we can relate to them as being the guy next door or the guy who is "like us" etc. But, we do not have any reason to think that Iraqi's love their children less than we love ours. The media should also repeat over and over the Iraqi death toll as well. The many civilians who died were not enemies. Remember that we went there to remove the weapons of mass destruction, and later we changed our stance slowly and the administration began saying "the world would be a safer place without Saddam Hussein in power".

    Why do we run away from the truth?

    March 29, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  14. Rob, Arvada, CO

    Is this what they call "Fight the Good Fight?" Methinks not! War is not the answer, it is time to cut and run, get out and get out now! Let the Brits and the Aussies have a go at it if they think this war is worth fighting anymore.

    March 28, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  15. Big James

    I was over in iraq in the beginning, the war is un-winable, the sectarian violence will never stop because the greed will never stop over the oil. The only thing this war is doing is bankrupting the country so it can be sold on the black market and turned into the north american union. Wake up people can't you see whats going on!!!

    March 28, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  16. Annie Kate

    We certainly opened a can of worms when we invaded Iraq. I would love for us to be able to come home – my nephew is over there and I cringe at the casualty reports. My nephew has said in emails back to us that they need to finish the job.

    With the focus on Iraq I haven't heard anything about what the plans are for Afghanistan which is also getting bad again. Do we finish up that job as well? Peter Bergen mentioned that Pakistan might be getting disenchanted with al Queda – enough perhaps to push them out of their country and back into Afghanistan where our forces could deal with them.

    So 2 wars to try to finish up with some sort of stability restored to both countries – I wonder if its even possible. I also wonder with the new increase in violence how well McCain's war stance is going to sit with the voters now?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 28, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  17. MBG

    Iraq is in a "defining moment" all right. What it's defining is the word "quagmire." And CNN's favorite candidate, John McCain, wants to wade in deeper.

    March 28, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  18. MBG

    While Anderson Cooper has been busy playing the race card on Barack Obama, Iraq is burning once again. But that's not as important as the burning questions about whether Obama is "too liberal" or whether his denouncing Rev. Wright's comments a hundred times isn't enough.

    March 28, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  19. Paris

    We just can’t leave these people because we had enough.
    That is exactly what militias are praying for.
    What would the world and Iraqi people think of us if we just leave them now and allow genocide to take place?
    This is a reality we need to face, we must finish the job.

    March 28, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  20. Cindy

    I just don't think that the Iraqi forces can handle anything on their own and that is the problem! No matter how long we have stayed there nothing seems to be changing in that regard! When is enough enough!? We can't stay there forever. These people need to stand up and take control of their country. We can't always run in and save them. If they really want freedom they have to take complete control and fight for it. We can't win that for them.

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 28, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  21. Margie Oklahoma

    Same-O, Same-O. We need to get out now–not 5 years from now or l00 years from now. It the officials in this country wanted peace and domocracy, they would be working harder toward that goal.

    Our going into Iraq was a horrible mistake and staying one more day does not make it a less horrible mistake. Bush and Chency wanted this war and they started this war.

    March 28, 2008 at 5:53 pm |

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