Another "new phase" of civil war in Iraq

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The path to civil war in Iraq has been paved in one "new phase" after another.

Reporting March 13, 2006, on Michael Gordon's new book "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq", Andrea Mitchell, Chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, wrote that the "White House and Pentagon promised 'shock and awe,' but [Gordon] describes a U.S. military command that was itself shocked by Saddam's paramilitary — the Fedayeen, non-uniformed militias in pickup trucks with AK47s — the roots of today's insurgency.

"'They thought that if we take Baghdad, the war is over,' says author Michael Gordon, the New York Times' chief military correspondent. 'In reality, you're just entering a new phase of the war.'"

Reverse Chronology


  • November 27, 2006: Bush, speaking to the press aboard Air Force One en route to Latvia for a NATO summit, said "the conflict in Iraq had entered 'a new phase' requiring changes." National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley said "We're clearly in a new phase characterized by an increase in sectarian violence that requires us to adapt to that new phase."
  • November 21, 2006: Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote that the "new, post-midterm mainstream position in Washington is to support 'phased withdrawals,' with or without telling anyone in advance when a new phase will begin, and to involve 'the neighbors,' meaning Iran and Syria, in forcing Iraqi politicians to reach 'a political solution.' James Baker and his Iraq Study Group will probably come up with some variation of this scenario. But we should be honest and acknowledge that phased withdrawals, with or without a stated timetable, really mean just telling the Iraqis good luck and adios, drawing the whole process out in a belated attempt to save face."
  • November 6, 2006: Mohammad Akef Jamal, in a special for Gulf News, wrote that "America has new plans for Iraq which are currently being fine-tuned ... [It] launched a new phase of its policies in Iraq, and probably the Middle East as well, in a carefully planned media campaign. ... Bush's speech included new elements, not discussed publicly before, such as negotiating with Iraqi militias and an offer of amnesty, to bring the armed groups in the political mainstream. It was also set to isolate organisations associated with Al Qaida, whose activities in Iraq have become a major concern for the US administration. ... Although these steps are aimed at sinking the differences among the various factions in Iraq, it is unlikely to bridge the gap. Most of them demand the annulment of all laws passed by Paul Bremer when he was the civil administrator of Iraq. ... A pessimistic note in Bush's speech was noted while he was mentioning the losses suffered by US forces in Iraq last month."
  • October 20, 2006: Colum Lynch reported in the Washington Post that a "confidential cable from the United Nations' top official in Baghdad, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan, said the Iraqi prime minister is seeking to exercise greater control over the release of the country's politically sensitive death toll. U.N. officials expressed concern that the move threatens to politicize the process of counting Iraq's dead and muddy international efforts to gain a clear snapshot of the scale of killing in Iraq. ... Qazi warned in the cable that the development 'may affect' the United Nations' ability to adequately record the number of civilians killed or wounded in the Iraq war as it endures a bloody new phase of sectarian violence."
  • October 19, 2006: Robert Dreyfuss wrote in TomDispatch: "A coup d'etat in Iraq would put a period - or rather an exclamation point - at the end of the Bush administration's bungled experiment with democracy there. And it would open an entirely new phase in that country's post-2003 national nightmare. Would it result in the creation of a Saddam Hussein-like strongman to rule Iraq with a heavy hand? Or would it force the warring parties (Sunni insurgents, Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias and Kurdish warlords) to intensify the bloody civil war that is tearing Iraq apart? No one knows."
  • June 5, 2006: Ann Givens, Bart Jones, and Graham Rayman wrote in Newsday: "More than three years after the United States invaded Iraq, the Pentagon reported last week that insurgent attacks against American forces in Iraq were at their highest level in two years. To many observers, the war seems to have entered a new phase of anarchy and violence. ... As of Friday, 2,474 U.S. troops had died, while media reports stated that more than 4,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed in sectarian violence since January."
  • April 1, 2006: Thomas L. Friedman wrote in the Salt Lake City Deseret News: "The fate of the entire U.S. enterprise in Iraq now hangs in the balance, as the war has entered a dangerous new phase. It is the phase of barbaric identity-card violence between Sunnis and Shiites. In the late 1970s, I covered a similar moment in Lebanon, and the one thing I learned was this: Once this kind of venom gets unleashed -- with members of each community literally beheading each other on the basis of their religious identities -- it poisons everything. You enter a realm that is beyond politics, a realm where fear and revenge dominate everyone's thinking -- and that is where Iraq is heading."
  • March 26, 2003: Peter Daou wrote in The Huffington Post: "As the Bush administration's Iraq fiasco spirals further out of control, a new phase of the war has begun: an all-out assault on the American media for simply reporting the news. The scope and audacity of this attack is breathtaking; on cue, a bevy of administration officials and rightwing talking heads has begun taking direct aim at the press, accusing reporters of fabricating the Iraq crisis."


  • December 9, 2005: In an opinion piece for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Anthony B. Robinson, a pastor of the United Church of Christ, wrote "As the debate on the Iraq war enters a new phase, those who foisted a crusade theory of warfare on Americans, and those who bought it, have much to answer for. Such a mentality encourages an overreliance on the nation's military, a rush to war, the failure of careful analysis and the erosion of proscriptions against torture and abuse. In moving from a just war ethic to a crusade theory of warfare Americans have lost their way, and some Christian leaders have betrayed their faith."
  • June 28, 2005: Martin Frost, writing for Fox News on "Iraq: Bush Myths vs. Reality", said: "We have clearly entered a new phase of our involvement in Iraq — public opinion is turning against the administration and the president will be devoting a good bit of his time trying to convince the American public that our policy should not change."
  • April 13, 2005: Speaking to troops at Fort Hood, Texas, Bush "likened the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad two years ago to the fall of the Berlin Wall and called it part of a 'global democratic revolution'," Bill Simon reported in the Washington Times. Bush said "Security operations are entering a new phase, ... America and its coalition partners are increasingly playing more of a supporting role. ... Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, ... For the first time, the Iraqi army, police and security forces now outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq."
  • March 29, 2005: In a White House press briefing, spokesman Scott McClellan said "we're seeing that the Iraqi leaders are moving forward on this new phase in Iraq. They're now in a phase of moving forward on the political process. ... it's going to take some time to forge a consensus and to reach a compromise. And that's what you're seeing happening in Iraq. But the Iraqi people are determined to live in freedom. And the Iraqi leaders are working to reach a consensus. And you're seeing compromise, which is always part of any democracy, move forward. We expect that they will have a new government in place soon."
  • March 19, 2005: In his weekly radio address to the nation, Bush said "Iraq's progress toward political freedom has opened a new phase of our work there. We are focusing our efforts on training the Iraqi security forces. As they become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly assume a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country, and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty. And then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."


  • June 28, 2004: Speaking at a NATO summit in Turkey, President Bush said: "After decades of brutal rule by a terror regime, the Iraqi people have their country back." The handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people on June 30 "begins a new phase in Iraq's progress toward full democracy," Bush said.
  • May 24, 2004: White House spokesman Scott McClellan said at a White House press briefing that "one of the five steps that we are pursuing in our strategy for a free and democratic and peaceful Iraq is to broaden international support ... That's why we moved forward on a United Nations Security Council resolution earlier today [which] marks a new phase in the transition to democracy for Iraq. It recognizes the end of the occupation and the beginning of sovereignty for the Iraqi people. And it makes a commitment, on behalf of the international community, to support that in our own government, and to support the timetable for holding elections that has been agreed to by the Iraqi people and put forward by the Iraqi people. ... And it provides for a leading role by the United Nations in the political process going forward. And it also addresses the multinational force, and it reaffirms support for a multinational force to partner with the Iraqi people in providing for their security going forward."
  • April 6, 2004: Democracy Now! reported that the Bush administration "is facing a nightmare scenario in Iraq, fighting on two fronts against both Sunni and Shia militants. ... The center of armed resistance to the U.S.-led occupation has predominantly come from Sunni-dominated areas. But the U.S. occupation entered a new phase this past Sunday as Shiite Iraqis staged an armed uprising against the occupying forces in four cities." [2]
  • February 14, 2004: Pepe Escobar wrote in the Asia Times: "Many in the European intelligence community now agree: political violence in the Arab-Muslim world has entered a new phase. It has nothing to do with Islam as a whole. It has nothing to do with a common threat. It has nothing to do with a messianic project. But it has everything to do with unresolved, and strictly local, political, economical and social problems. That's the case in Iraq: a nationalist movement fighting foreign occupation, just like Palestinians fighting Ariel Sharon's Israel."


  • May 2, 2003: Tony Jones and Norman Hermant, reporting for the Australian Broadcasting Company's Lateline, said: "For George W Bush it may have been the mother of all political backdrops. The US President made a dramatic entry onto an aircraft carrier to declare victory in Iraq. He stopped short of declaring the Iraq war offically over and also vowed America's war on terror that began on September 11, 2001 will continue. The speech marks the beginning of a new phase for the US in Iraq. It also sends an important message to the American public that the President's attention is shifting back from the war to the troubled economy."
  • May 1, 2003: At a press briefing aboard Air Force One, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "On the foreign policy front, [the President] emphasized that he has more on his mind than Iraq, saying that the U.S. was committed to 'freedom ... in a peaceful Palestine,' as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. 'We clearly are entering into a new phase internationally ..."
  • April 25, 2003: At a White House press briefing, spokesman Ari Fleischer said "at the appropriate time when the president is ready, the president will have more thoughts to share with the nation about the mission, what was accomplished in the mission, that the combat phase of the operation has come to a conclusion and that a new phase of reconstruction and freedom is beginning."
  • April 10, 2003: In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Carroll wrote about a new phase of the war in Iraq — "apparent dead people": "The dirty little secret of the war on Iraq is finally out in the open: People are dying. Not sneering near-psychotic Republican Guard-type people, but humans the Bush administration has often called 'the victims of Saddam Hussein.' ... They no longer have to worry about Saddam Hussein: They've gone to a better place. The injured civilians have it tougher; they have to worry about Saddam Hussein and about the army that injured them in the first place, the army that the Bush administration calls 'the coalition forces.' Also they have to worry about filthy hospitals, no water, no medicine and, oh yes, unimaginable suffering: theirs."
  • February 27, 2003: In The Hindu, Sridhar Krishnaswami wrote: "Faced with continuing opposition and even defiance from 'allies,' the U. S. President, George W. Bush, is now trying to make the point that getting rid of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq has larger benefits to the world other than on the terrorism front — that it could pave the way for 'democracy' in the Arab world, not to speak of setting in motion a new phase for the West Asia peace process."


  • March 13, 2002: Bush, speaking of Osama bin Laden, said in a White House press briefing "That's one of the things -- part of the new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary, or training, or a place to hide, or a place to raise money."
  • February 26, 2002: Jim Lobe, writing for Inter Press Service on a rumored disinformation campaign by the Bush administration, said: "The burden of proof will almost surely shift against the Pentagon if it goes through with the plans for a new propaganda campaign that, according to Tuesday's New York Times, might include 'disinformation' to persuade public opinion overseas to back Washington's war against terrorism. ... The plans, which have provoked objections from the uniformed military as well as within the administration, appear to mark a new phase in a broader campaign to influence opinion particularly in the Islamic world and Europe, where opposition to any expansion of the war beyond Afghanistan is especially strong."

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