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A cover story from today’s Washington Post couldn’t put it more clearly:
The Iraq Study Group began two days of intensive behind-closed-doors deliberations yesterday as the White House conceded that Iraq has moved into a dangerous new phase of warfare requiring changes in strategy. In a sign of the growing global concern about Iraq’s fate, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed for immediate steps to prevent the country from crumbling into all-out civil war.
“Given the developments on the ground, unless something is done drastically and urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation, we could be there. In fact, we are almost there,” Annan said when a reporter asked about the prospects of civil war in Iraq.
National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley told reporters traveling to Estonia with President Bush: “Obviously, everyone would agree things are not proceeding well enough or fast enough.” Washington must find ways to “adapt,” he added.
Events over the past week, including the deadliest attacks since the war began in March 2003, have created a new sense of diplomatic urgency about finding a viable strategy to contain Iraq’s violence and limit spillover damage across the region. The White House again resisted assertions that Iraq is now in a civil war, but that stance is increasingly hard to defend, according to analysts, diplomats and even some U.S. officials in private.
There will be a lot more political speak in the weeks and months to come, but the simple fact is that Iraq is in uncontrolled chaos. No one, it seems to me, should gloat or celebrate. Rather, N.T. Wright’s words in Evil and the Justice of God suggest a starting point for an appropriate response:
“It isn’t that the cross has won the victory, so there’s nothing more to be done. Rather, the cross has won the victory as a result of which there are now redeemed human beings getting ready to act as God’s wise agents, his stewards, constantly worshipping their Creator and constantly, as a result, being equipped to reflect his image into creation, to bring his wise and healing order to the world, putting the world to rights under his just and gentle rule.”