Later, when asked about the Red Crescent attack and the rising violence in Iraq, Blair skittered away into that inner Green Zone of fortified fantasy where the war’s backers increasingly dwell. “There is innocent blood being spilled, but it’s not being spilled by the Iraqi government,” he told the NYT.

Yet it beggars belief to imagine that Blair and Bush (or at least the latter’s chief advisers) do not know that they have helped form many of the very militias they now rail against daily, and that their much-trumpeted support for Iraq’s “security forces” is in fact one of the main engines driving the sectarian civil war. One can only conclude from this that Bush and Blair have decided that the sectarian war should be played to their own advantage, and pushed toward the only result that now offers even the slightest chance of “success” from their war of aggression: the triumph of a Shiite extremist faction willing to cut an acceptable deal on the all-important “oil law” and perhaps allow a continued U.S. military presence in the country, if only a few “lily-pad” skeleton bases.

These have always been the main goals of the Bush Faction’s warmongers, even before the Administration took power in the 2000 judicial coup: to open Iraq’s oil fields to cronies of the conquerors, and to plant a U.S. “military footprint” in this strategic heart of the Middle East. They have hewed toward these goals with a remarkable, ruthless focus. This is one key reason why the occupation of Iraq has been such a slap-dash affair; its authors didn’t really care what sort of regime sprang up in the wake of the invasion, or how it got cobbled together, as long as it played ball on oil and military bases. (A third main goal of the operation – war profiteering on an unprecedented, almost unfathomable scale – has already been accomplished.)

They would have done better to pay more attention to “side issues” like the security of the Iraqi people and the provision of essential services, of course. But the Bush-led warmongers are, after all, a collection of stunted intellects, stupified by greed and primitive ideologies. Now, facing the imminent ruin of their reckless and misbegotten enterprise, they are down to their last card: the wheelers and dealers of SCIRI.

In these past weeks following the November elections, Bush and Blair have set about trying to build a new coalition around Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is dependent for his political power on the support of hardline Shiite cleric and fierce nationalist Motqada al-Sadr and his mass “Mahdi Army,” which already controls several areas of the country, including large swathes of Baghdad. Sadr, who along with his martyred family stayed in Iraq and fought Saddam’s repression, has long been at odds with Hakim and SCIRI, who fled to Iran and whose forces even fought for Iran against their fellow Iraqis in the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. This conflict has often flared into violent battles, especially in the last year, forming yet another front in Iraq’s multi-sided civil war. Sadr, whose army has already led two uprising against American forces, will never accept a continued U.S. presence in the country. Nor is anyone with his nationalist beliefs to be trusted to do right by Bush’s oil patrons.

Thus it seems increasingly clear that Bush and Blair have decided to wage all-out war on Sadr, with the help of the “surge” troops now being put together. This will be the “New Way Forward” that Bush’s mouthpieces have been talking about. American soldiers will fight for SCIRI and its allies, and for any other faction that seems likely to acquiesce in some measure to the Coalition’s twin war aims. The fact that this will be yet another strategic mistake of horrendous proportions will not stop the stunted intellects from giving it a try. Sadr, who commands the fanatical devotion of millions of Iraqis – millions of armed Iraqis – cannot be defeated militarily without a bloodbath that would make even the utter hell of present-day Iraq look mild by comparison.

Sunday’s attack on the Red Crescent is a harbinger of what’s to come, and a microcosm of the great atrocity that is the war itself: a vicious assault by torturers and murderers on innocent people while self-proclaimed liberators look on, mouthing pieties, talking tough, and daintily cleansing their hands of blood.

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