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So, I ask myself on the way into work, what’s up with Iraq these days? And what do I think about the recent run of suicide bombings?

I don’t think it’s a Vietnam style quagmire. The situation is rather different; for one thing, the opposition isn’t funded by a superpower. We’re unlikely to see the kind of open warfare we experienced in Vietnam. The terrain wouldn’t support it and the technological gap has widened.

On the other hand, we are pretty rapidly approaching the kind of quagmire in which Israel and Palestine reside. Suicide bombers are now part of the Iraqi landscape. There are substantial and popular local resistance movements; if you don’t think the Shi’ite clerics are ready to stand four-square against the US, you’re not paying attention.

We need to expect that we will experience the kind of ongoing terrorist pressure that we see in Israel. It will continue, directed at our troops, as long as we have troops in Iraq. This includes troops based in Iraq after we turn over control of the country to a native government.

If Israel has been unable to stop such attacks, it’s folly to think we can do a damned thing about them. We are an occupying power in a foreign culture, and we do not have a MacArthur. We do not have a Hirohito, a powerful symbolic leader, to tell Iraq that this is for the best. The Iraqi Hirohitos are saying exactly the opposite.

Discussion about the Iraq occupation must, to be useful and relevant, acknowledge this fundamental fact. It’s going to be contested, and it’s going to be contested in the same way that the West Bank occupation is contested. That’s not a political point, it’s a reality.

More good commentary from Phil Carter and Juan Cole.

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