Bush-administrasjonen klynger seg til håpet om at valget 30. januar vil gjøre underverker, men på bakken forverres situasjonen fra dag til dag. Det er nok å nevne attentatene i Bagdad.

In another significant blow to Iraq’s upcoming elections, the entire 13-member electoral commission in the volatile province of Anbar, west of the capital, resigned after being threatened by insurgents, a regional newspaper reported Sunday.

Saad Abdul-Aziz Rawi, the head of the commission, told the Anbar newspaper that it was «impossible to hold elections» in the province, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims and where insurgent attacks already have prevented voter registration. The province includes the restive cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

An Iraqi at the commission’s office in Anbar said the members had resigned and had gone into hiding.

Alt som forbindes med valget er legitimt mål i opprørernes øyne. En barneskole full av unger ble nesten truffet i Tikrit. Den skal være valglokale. Slikt skremmer.

At an elementary school in Tikrit, about 90 miles north of Baghdad, a rocket landed behind a school, narrowly missing a building crowded with children taking exams. The Um Omara school is a designated polling place, residents said.

«It was like an earthquake under my feet,» said Kadhem Mohei, 57, a school guard. «The school walls cracked. It hit in the back yard.» Mohei said his daughter, who was in the school, was slightly injured.

Bush forsøker å holde maska:

President Bush yesterday rebutted pessimistic assessments that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, as the Pentagon acknowledged that U.S. troops are facing a new challenge from insurgents who have started deploying larger and deadlier bombs over the past two weeks in the run-up to Iraq’s first democratic elections.

Bush yesterday said the Jan. 30 elections will be «such an incredibly hopeful experience» for Iraqis and that the United States and its Iraqi allies are «making great progress.»

U.S. Faces New Military Challenges As Vote NearsArab League Pressed To Get Sunnis to Polls

Men andre har sett skriften på veggen og nøler ikke med å si fra. Blant dem tenketanken Stratfor, som var for krigen. Her felles det en hard dom: Bush blew it ved ikke å sende inn nok soldater. Det samme har Zbigniew Brzinzski sagt: USA må være villig til å sette inn 500.000 soldater og bruke 200 milliarder dollar i året, hvis man skal ha håp om å vinne. Det vil trolig bety gjeninnføring av verneplikten. Men ikke noe av dette er Bush villig til. USA må derfor forberede seg på retrett, og overlate utfallet helt til irakerne. Det kan bety borgerkrig.

Det anerkjente Stratfor-instituttet kommer med samme dystre spådom som Andre Sullivan bringer:

The issue facing the Bush administration is simple. It can continue to fight the war as it has, hoping that a miracle will bring successes in 2005 that didn’t happen in 2004. Alternatively, it can accept the reality that the guerrilla force is now self-sustaining and sufficiently large not to flicker out and face the fact that a U.S. conventional force of less than 150,000 is not likely to suppress the guerrillas. More to the point, it can recognize these facts: 1. The United States cannot re-engineer Iraq because the guerrillas will infiltrate every institution it creates. 2. That the United States by itself lacks the intelligence capabilities to fight an effective counterinsurgency. 3. That exposing U.S. forces to security responsibilities in this environment generates casualties without bringing the United States closer to the goal. 4. That the strain on the U.S. force is undermining its ability to react to opportunities and threats in the rest of the region. And that, therefore, this phase of the Iraq campaign must be halted as soon as possible.

Ingen skal anklage amerikanerne for å være skuggredde. Bush kan snart komme til å møte Lyndon Johnsons spøkelse i korridorene:

Certainly, it would have been nice for the United States if it had been able to dominate Iraq thoroughly. Somewhere between «the U.S. blew it» and «there was never a chance» that possibility is gone. It would have been nice if the United States had never tried to control the situation, because now the United States is going to have to accept a defeat, which will destabilize the region psychologically for a while. But what is is, and the facts speak for themselves. We are not Walter Cronkite, and we are not saying that the war is lost. The war is with the jihadists around the world; Iraq was just one campaign, and the occupation of the Sunnis was just one phase of that campaign. That phase has been lost. The administration has allowed that phase to become the war as a whole in the public mind. That was a very bad move, but the administration is just going to have to bite the bullet and do the hard, painful and embarrassing work of cutting losses and getting on with the war. If Bush has trouble doing this, he should conjure up Lyndon Johnson’s ghost, wandering restlessly in the White House, and imagine how Johnson would have been remembered if he had told Robert McNamara to get lost in 1966.

Stratfor krever dessverre abonnement.