The increase of US forces in Iraq that President Bush announced last Wednesday offers practically no chance of thwarting the Sunni Arab insurgency or quelling the sectarian civil war that is turning life there into a nightmarish inferno for Sunnis and Shi’ites alike. The changes Bush proposed reflect a refusal to recognise the durability of the Sunni insurgency and the deeply rooted communal passions that have been loosed. Earlier attempts to tamp down the insurgency by deploying more US troops have failed.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have been warning the US that expanded sectarian warfare in Iraq, with large-scale massacres of Sunni Arabs, could draw them, and possibly Turkey, into the conflict. They fear overwhelming refugee flows, a spillover of Sunni-Shi’ite violence to other countries, and vastly expanded Iranian influence from the Gulf region to the Mediterranean. Added to these anxieties is the specter Bush evoked of western Iraq becoming a safe haven for jihadist groups seeking to overthrow the secular or insufficiently Islamic regimes of the region. Bush’s invasion and bungled occupation of Iraq brought about these perils. His prolonging of a failed strategy in Iraq looks more and more like a refusal to cope with the looming consequences of his own mistakes. — The Boston Globe