Many of those who were skeptical about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, including the editors of this magazine, worried that sweeping away the devil of Saddam Hussein would—as in the parable in Luke 11—make way for several other kinds of devils. The devils appear alive and well in Iraq. While it is premature to describe Iraq as a quagmire for the U.S., the situation is “hellishly difficult,” to cite the words of Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
U.S. occupying forces face daily guerrilla attacks, and they operate within a restless and suspicious population. The bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad in late August and the subsequent attack on a Shi‘ite mosque that killed Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, a strategic friend of the U.S., showed how unstable the country is. It also demonstrated that those aiming to derail U.S. policies are well armed and well organized.