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Securing Baghdad with a Larger "Footprint"

10:34 AM, May 25, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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Today's Wall Street Journal editorial weighs in:

The most urgent need is for leaders in both Iraq and Washington to do more to improve security in Baghdad. The White House has been right to point out that the media have missed many good news stories in Iraq, but current coverage probably understates the trauma of daily life in the capital. Iraq can survive the car bombs we hear about on the news. The real problem is more generalized lawlessness and a lack of basic services like electricity that have made normal life nasty, brutish and too often short.

Educated Iraqis are fleeing Baghdad in increasing numbers, a terrible sign for the country's democratic future if the exodus is not stopped. The new government and coalition commanders may have to think in terms of a major redeployment of U.S. and Iraqi forces, with the aim of securing Baghdad at all costs. A 30-day plan for a more visible street presence and with frequent security checkpoints would be one place to start.

As the Journal notes, evidence continues to mount that the current "footprint" isn't getting the job done in Baghdad. This reality more than anything else is the biggest threat to the political progress Iraq has made. It's also why talk of decoupling the security situation in Iraq from the issue of US troop reductions is worrisome.