A Melancholy Milestone in Iraq

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As of Sunday, the war in Iraq has lasted longer than America's engagement in World War II. Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr asks: Where do we go from here?


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

According to many sources, the shortest war in history was between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar in 1896. It lasted for 37 minutes and 20 seconds. The longest is probably the Hundred Years War between England and France that was actually a series of wars that ran for 116 years.

NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr notes that the Iraq War has now reached its own milestone of sorts.

DANIEL SCHORR: This is an occasion of sorts, a melancholy one. On this Sunday, the war with Iraq has lasted longer than America's involvement in World War II. And unlike VE Day and VJ Day, there is no VI Day in sight in a deepening insurrectionist war and a spreading sectarian war. Many thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Up to two million have fled and there are signs of a society in a process of disintegration.

A telling sign of the Iraqis who work as police by day and sectarian militias by night, wearing police uniforms which facilitates kidnapping - almost routinely Sunnis are kidnapped by Shiites and Shiites by Sunnis, stuffed into car trunks and taken away to be tortured and murdered.

President Bush is going to see Iraqi Prime Minister Malaki, not in Baghdad, where even the heavily fortified Green Zone is no longer considered safe, but in Amman, Jordan. Nothing better illustrates the Bush administration's air of helplessness than this latest idea of involving Syria and Iran in efforts to bring some stability to Iraq.

Syria? Isn't that the country implicated in the assassination of Lebanese officials? And Iran? Isn't that the country trying to dominate the Middle East and inviting Iraq and Syria to a summit conference in Tehran? Not to mention the Iranian nuclear program and threats to annihilate the state of Israel. So where do we go from here?

White House counselor Dan Bartlett says to reporters, the president will assure the prime minister - that is, Malaki - that he's the one who sets foreign policy for the country. Well, that's nice. But meanwhile, the killing goes on.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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