RICE ON IRAQ. In an awesome bit of goalpost-moving, the secretary of state can now claim for Iraq that it won't be Iran:

Iraq is not on track to become another Iran despite the disconcerting images last week of Iraqis burning American flags and chanting "Death to America," Secretary of State Rice said yesterday.

"I have no doubt that this is an Iraqi government and an Iraq that is going to be a fierce fighter in the war against terrorism, because they themselves are experiencing the effects of terror on their population," Ms. Rice said. "I have no doubt that this is going to be a government that is on the right side in the war on terror."

This whole line of argument is heavily invested in the new gigantic conceptual error being made by the American right of thinking that Iran -- rather than, say, al-Qaeda -- is the enemy in the war on terrorism. There is, simply put, no contradiction between vast swathes of Iraq emerging as an Iranian-dominated theocracy (see here) and the government continuing to oppose the Sunni jihadists who are trying to overthrow it. Meanwhile, with reference to the pro-Hezbollah rallies in Iraq, Rice says "you won't have demonstrations of that kind" when Iraq is more stable and democratic. But why would you think that? Every Arab country has had pro-Hezbollah demonstrations -- the limiting factor is the extent to which the government wants to crack down and prohibit protesting. One would expect a democratic Iraq with its large Shiite population to be more sympathetic to Hezbollah than Arab public opinion writ large, not less sympathetic.

Meanwhile, American soldiers keep getting killed for essentially no reason. What are they even supposed to be accomplishing at this point?

--Matthew Yglesias

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