Thursday, April 19, 2007

Baghdad Adjusting To "Surge"

At least 173 people died in Baghdad on Wednesday in a series of major explosions, making the day the capital's deadliest since the onset nine weeks ago of a much-touted U.S.-Iraqi security plan.

The violence capped a dreadful seven days that began with a stunning suicide attack in the Iraqi parliament building in the heavily fortified Green Zone. At least 363 people have died in Baghdad in the past week.

Pentagon officials urged patience, saying two of the five U.S. brigades ordered to Iraq as part of the security plan have yet to arrive, although some at the Pentagon privately expressed concern.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in Israel, blamed al-Qaida for Wednesday's attacks and said military planners had anticipated such actions "to make the plan a failure or to make the people of Iraq believe the plan is a failure."

But one official at the Pentagon sighed at news of the bombings: "We don't have enough troops. It would take another 100,000" to properly protect Baghdad. Another planner said: "We are just trying the same things over and over again." Neither would agree to speak on the record, citing the sensitivity of the topic.

Outside the Pentagon, military experts urged the Bush administration to reassess its plan, which until the past week had reduced the number of unidentified corpses found on Baghdad's streets but has done nothing to stop mass-fatality bombings.

"Which one is better: assassination squads or spectacular bombings?" asked Kevin Ryan, a retired brigadier general who's now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "They have to readjust."


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