What happened
Two Iraqi women were killed in a shooting by guards working for a private security company, igniting fresh anger in Iraq over the use of hired guns to protect foreign diplomats. The guards blamed for these deaths worked for an Australian company—not Blackwater USA, which was involved in a controversial Sept. 16 shootout—but diplomats said the incident would further hamper U.S. efforts to make progress toward reconciling Iraq’s warring factions.

What the commentators said
The “smart guys” say we have to stay in Iraq no matter how messy things get, said Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post (free registration). The American people want to start withdrawing, “but what do they matter?” The administration’s refusal to pull up stakes is eroding majority rule, and making “American democracy” another casualty of the war.

There are ways to win in Iraq without fighting on and on, said Scot Lehigh in The Boston Globe (free registration). Sen. Joe Biden has proposed reconciling Iraq’s warring factions by backing away from the insistence on a strong, central government in Baghdad, and moving instead toward a federal system giving each of the warring sects and ethnic groups a semi-autonomous province. Iraqi leaders are warm to the idea, so why not give it a try?

It’s hard to see anything bringing Iraqi factions together at this point, said Newsday in an editorial. “Put simply, the majority Shiites have power now, after centuries of oppression by minority Sunnis, and they are not about to share power in any significant way.” Most civil wars end not with everybody joining hands and sharing power, but “with one side winning power outright.”