The bombings in Baghdad that killed about 100 and injured 500--the deadliest attacks since U.S. forces pulled out of Iraqi cities in June--was obviously not good news for a country struggling to stabilize itself. But how much will the bloodletting affect elections scheduled five months from now? Does the violence signal potential problems with withdrawing U.S. troops a year-and-a-half from now? Most of today's comments fell on the negative side of both questions.

  • Going South, Fast "It's impossible to overstate the significance of these attacks," said The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss. "It's probably the most significant bombings in Baghdad since the attacks on the Jordanian embassy and the United Nations offices in 2003." That's because it portends the waves of violence that will come as the U.S. leaves and shows that the Malaki government and its security forces are unable to prevent attacks, Dreyfuss wrote.
  • Politics By Other Means  Juan Cole believed the attacks were executed by Sunnis, probably ex-Baathist military members, not al-Qaeda. Prime Minister Maliki has said he won't negotiate with Sunni groups that have blood on their hands, Cole writes, adding that this "intransigence has served as a cover for his failure to proceed with any sort of genuine political reconciliation with the Sunni Arab community. The continued violence in Iraq is a manifestation of those profound political discontents with the new political order, one dominated by the Shiites and the Kurds."
  • An Imperfect Ending  Iraq is one of those "situations in which the best we can do simply isn’t very good," said the Atlantia Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman. While the surge bought all concerned more time to fix Iraq's political problems, the goals of the surge haven't been met, Bookman said, such as no oil-revenue sharing law, no de-Bathification law, and no resolution of quasi-Kurdish autonomy. Jaymes Jonyer said we are in the denouement stage: "We’ll simply never be able to withdraw from Iraq if perfect security is the benchmark. It’s in our interest to continue to provide logistical and technical support indefinitely; but we’ve past the point where a continued large scale military presence will provide additional benefits."
  • U.S. Is Election Poison  Time's Ben Lando said, "It would be political suicide for the Iraqi government, at this point, to reverse itself and bring U.S. tanks back into cities." The government celebrated the U.S.-Iraq agreement to remove American soldiers as a kind of national sovereignty day with parades. Iraqi politicians make nationalist appeals on the basis of how oppose they are to America's presence. "While Iraq can't live with the U.S. military presence, it will have to learn to live without it fast."