What the Iraq bombings mean

Are devastating, synchronized car bombings a sign that Iraqi forces can't keep citizens safe?

Iraqi security forces blocked streets around Baghdad Monday as authorities investigated how bombers managed to severely damage the Justice Ministry and other government buildings in two synchronized car bombings, killing more than 150 people in the deadliest attacks this year. Was this blow to the heart of the Iraqi government a sign that Iraqi forces aren't prepared to keep the country safe without help from American troops? (Watch footage of the synchronized attacks in Iraq)

Of course Iraqis can't do it alone: So much for the conventional wisdom in Washington, says Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic, which holds that "the Iraq war is over." If these massive, deadly car bombings are still happening with more than 120,000 American troops in the country, "what are the odds that Iraq will remain half-way peaceful and unified when/if the U.S. leaves?"

"Reality Check III"

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The bombers have a more immediate goal -- influencing January elections: The bombers aren't thinking that far ahead, says Jim Phillips in National Review. What they really wanted to do was destabilize the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ahead of January parliamentary elections. By destroying key ministry buildings, the bombings, which Baghdad blamed on al Qaida and remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, were meant to "undermine support for Maliki's government by demonstrating that it can not protect itself, let alone Iraqi civilians."

"Violence in Iraq"

Iraqis can handle this: The bombings were, as intended, "a reminder of the fragility of Iraqi security," says David Ignatius in The Washington Post. But the willingness of Iraqis to go back in the streets within hours showed how resilient they are. Gen. David Petraeus said such violence won't make Iraqis beg for American troops to return to their cities. As he said, "Iraqis will respond to this."

"A resilient Baghdad on a day of horror"

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