Thursday, December 14, 2006

Inhofe's Iraq Problem


Today's headlines from Iraq are again depressing: "Gunmen kidnap dozens in central Baghdad," MSNBC reports on its website.

The continuing sectarian violence over the past several months has turned most Americans against the war.

But Oklahoma's senior Washington leader, Sen. Jim Inhofe, has never turned. A few months back, in fact, he specifically rejected the idea of a civil war in Iraq.

"I have been there, and I would argue that there is not [a civil war]. In fact, it is grossly exaggerated," Inhofe told the Tulsa World in early August.

To which we say: Inhofe's crystal ball must have been on the blink that day. The violence in Iraq shows no sign of ending, as the Iraq Study Group confirmed just last week.

To his credit, Inhofe has made many trips to Iraq. Back in August, Inhofe told the World that he had made 11 trips there. "I am probably as well informed as anyone in Congress."

We'd like to take him at his word. But Inhofe's partisan blinders seem to get between him and the truth. Take, for example, his August statement on the Sunni-Shiite factionalism in Iraq.

"This thing between the Sunni and the [Shiites] is mostly a Western notion," Inhofe said. "People in the West are the ones who are talking about it."

Well, no.

The daily evidence from Iraq is overwhelming that there's more than a little friction between these sects. We're being kind, of course: The fact is that many of these people want to kill each other—and too often they do.

Yet Inhofe, who has been to Iraq many times and who boasts that he's perhaps the most informed member of Congress on this issue, can't get it right. He's not even close.

It's time for the good senator to come clean. If he can't or won't, it's time for Tulsans and Oklahomans to think about a change in the state's senior leadership.

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