The Bush administration has finally admitted that the situation in Iraq can no longer be addressed by “staying the course.” Both the visible deterioration of the situation on the ground, amply demonstrated by the horrifying violence in Baghdad and other important cities, and the American voters’ rejection of the Republican Party and its policies in the midterm congressional elections make it imperative for the administration to announce a new course. But the options are limited.

Iraq today sits at the intersection of two clusters of conflict. The first is internal to Iraq, a result of the vacuum of power left by Washington’s success in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and its subsequent failure to restore security and governance. The second is regional, caused by the rise of Shiite power in Iran and affecting the entire area from Iran to the Arabian peninsula and the Levant. As a result, any new policy on Iraq needs to address both domestic and regional issues.

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