Soon enough, we'll all be overwhelmed -- metaphorically speaking, we hope -- with news of Hurricane Rita; while the storm is still more than 200 miles away from Galveston, Texas, it is already forcing water back over a levee and into New Orleans' Ninth Ward. But before Rita consumes us, let's check in briefly on the war in Iraq, which will be the subject of a big but destined-to-be-ignored protest in Washington this weekend.
Ten U.S. soldiers have been killed this week in Iraq, bringing the American death toll to 1,912. As Senate Democrats asked the president's intelligence czar for a briefing on developments in Iraq and the president himself acknowledged that there are "differences in opinion" among Americans "about the way forward," a senior Saudi official warned yesterday that Iraq is "gradually going toward disintegration." During a visit to Washington, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Faisal said: "There seems to be no dynamic now that is pulling the country together. All the dynamics there are pushing the (Iraqi) people away from each other."
While Bush and his supporters still insist that the war will spread democracy throughout the Middle East, Saud said that leaders there have a different view. He said Iraq is threatening the stability of the entire Middle East, and he expressed concerns that other countries will be drawn into the fight between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite contingents. "That is the main worry of all the neighbors of Iraq," he said. In an interview with the Associated Press, Saud said that the Bush administration had ignored his government's warnings about the risk of occupying Iraq.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies casts doubt on the Bush administration's claims that U.S. forces are fighting terrorist outsiders in Iraq. As the Guardian explains, the report finds that foreigners account for fewer than 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgents now fighting in Iraq.
Back home, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday had less than half of the public saying that the U.S. will win in Iraq; a Gallup poll released earlier this week showed that only 32 percent of the public supports Bush's handling of the war -- and that 63 percent want some or all of the U.S. troops withdrawn now. Those views will be pressed in Washington tomorrow, when organizers hope 100,000 protesters will join activist Cindy Sheehan in marching against the war. The president has heard it all before, and he doesn't seem to be impressed. "Some Americans want us to withdraw our troops so that we can escape the violence," he said yesterday. "I recognize their good intentions, but their position is wrong."