Bush Abdicates to Generals on Iraq; 10 Killed in Sadr City; Al-Maliki Excludes Sadrists

War turns Republics into dictatorships. The logic is actually quite simple. The Constitution says that the Congress is responsible for declaring war. But in 2002 Congress turned that responsibility over to Bush, gutting the constitution and allowing the American Right to start referring to him not as president but as ‘commander in chief’ (that is a function of the civilian presidency, not a title.)

Now Bush has now turned over the decision-making about the course of the Iraq War to Gen. David Petraeus.

So Congress abdicated to Bush. Bush has abdicated to the generals in the field.

That is not a Republic. That is a military dictatorship achieved not by coup but by moral laziness.

Ironically, what officers like Petraeus need from Bush is not deference but vigorous leadership in the political realm. Bush needs to intervene to work for political reconciliation in Iraq if Petraeus’s military achievements are to bear fruit. But Bush seems incapable of actually conducting policy, as opposed to starting wars. Bush happened to Iraq just as he happened to New Orleans. He cannot do the hard work of patiently addressing disasters and ameliorating them. He just wants to set people to fighting. Crush the Sadr Movement, perhaps the most popular political movement in Iraq? He’s all for it. Risk provoking a wider conflagration in the Middle East by worsening relations with Iran? Sounds like a great idea to him. Bush campaigned on being a ‘uniter not a divider’ in 2000. In fact, he is the ultimate Divider, and leaves burning buildings, millions of refugees, and hundreds of thousands of cadavers in his wake. He is not Iraq’s Brownie. He is Iraq’s Katrina itself.

Just as New Orleans’s Ninth Ward will still be a moonscape when Bush goes out of office, so will Iraq.

Eugene Robinson nails it: “It’s time to acknowledge that Bush has run out the clock. The nation’s only recourse is the ballot box.”

65% of Americans either want US troops out of Iraq immediately or sometime in 2009, up from 61% in February of this year. Only 31% want to keep them there ‘as long as it takes,’ and that percentage declined in the past couple of months from 34%. In other words, whatever the success of the troop escalation and COIN techniques in the past year, they have had no impact on the rapid decline in the popularity with the American public of the US presence in Iraq. Most Americans don’t seem to care whether the situation is better or worse in Iraq, they just want out.

In part these statistics show you don’t need a degree in economics to figure out that the Iraq War is having a negative impact on the US economy. Americans are being hurt where it hurts.

Fighting and Hellfire missiles killed 10 and wounded 22 in Shiite Sadr City, according to local sources. The US was apparently trying to take out rocket launchers that have been targeting the Green Zone, where many US personnel are. Two US military personnel were killed that way on Sunday.

Stephen Farrell of the NYT reports on the conditions in Sadr City, as Shiite militias seem to be making preparations for resisting an all-out assault.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki snubbed the Sadr Bloc in parliament, declining to invite them to a meeting with other blocs on Thursday. Sadrist parliamentarians, who originally elected al-Maliki, complained that he is attempting to deny them a voice.

Reuters points out that the upcoming provincial elections in Iraq have the potential to turn politics upside down in the Shiite south. They also will be a straw in the wind for the likely results of the 2009 parliamentary elections. It is likely that the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shiite parties, has fallen decisively apart, and that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Da’wa Party, the Sadrists, the Islamic Virtue Party, and other Shiite parties will run separately this time.

On the other hand, ISCI and Da’wa now are in power and seem to like being in power, and it is not at all clear that there will be any further federal parliamentary elections or that they will be free and fair if they are held. (The Americans may be largely gone by December 2009). Despite what American politicians and generals say, Iran likes the status quo and would back a permanent ISCI-Da’wa semi-dictatorship. And that may be what ultimately matters. Of course, it is possible that if enough Iraqis feel disenfranchised, even more will be drawn to violence.

Reuters reports political violence on late Wednesday through Thursday:

‘ *Iraqi soldiers discovered 33 bodies in a mass grave at a house in Mahmudiyah south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. It said initial reports indicated the remains had been buried for more than a year. A number of mass graves have been uncovered in Iraq in recent months in the wake of rampant sectarian fighting in 2006-2007.

BAGHDAD – Six people were killed and 10 wounded in air strikes on Thursday in Sadr City, Iraqi police said. The U.S. military confirmed strikes, but said it was unaware of any deaths.

MOSUL – Three mortar rounds landed on a residential area in southern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, wounding 12 people including an Iraqi soldier, police said.

MOSUL – A bomb exploded in western Mosul, wounding 3 people, police said.

NUMANIYA – A joint U.S.-Iraqi force arrested 15 men during a search and raid operation in the town of Numaniya, 120 km (70 miles) south of Baghdad, and raided a Sadr office in the town, seizing a number of light weapons, police said. They imposed a curfew in the town until further notice. The U.S. military could not immediately confirm the raid.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, killing one civilian and wounding four, including two policemen, in central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded six people, including three policemen, on patrol near al-Shaab National Stadium in central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A U.S. soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device in central Baghdad on Wednesday, the U.S. military said on Thursday, taking the U.S. death toll for April to 20.

BAGHDAD – U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint in Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, with Iraqi police killed one person on Wednesday when they were attacked by small-arms fire, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – U.S. soldiers killed four people in northwestern Baghdad late on Wednesday when they responded to an attack with rocket-propelled grenades at a checkpoint, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – A U.S. helicopter fired two Hellfire missiles, killing four people who had attacked U.S. soldiers late on Wednesday at a security station in Sadr City, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – U.S. soldiers killed four people in two different locations in northwestern Baghdad after they were attacked with small-arms fire late on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.

NEAR KIRKUK – In the town of Hawija near Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, gunmen wearing army uniforms attacked a house, killing two boys and wounding the mother and father.

BAGHDAD – A U.S. fighting vehicle took a rocket-propelled grenade round in northwestern Baghdad on Wednesday night, wounding one U.S. soldier, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – A U.S. vehicle in Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, was struck by an improvised explosive device on Wednesday night and one U.S. soldier was wounded, the U.S. military said. ‘