The toll from Sunday's bombings in Baghdad has climbed past 150 dead and 500 wounded, making one point very clear: A good U.S. exit from Iraq will be neither quick nor easy.
President Barack Obama was only partly correct when he noted, "These bombings serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women and children."
But they also were attacks intended to convey the message that Iraq is not, and will not be, safe. It's terrorism at its most basic: an attack on a soft target, to create fear among the general population.
The bombings were aimed at destabilizing both what faith Iraqis have in their government and any remaining American commitment to help that nation rebuild.
But the United States cannot back away yet. Too much has been spent in Iraq, in blood and treasure, to leave the nation before it can stand on its own.
There are major obstacles to reaching that goal. The Iraqi economy has to improve in the face of a global recession. Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurds have to put aside ethnic tensions and work toward a unified nation — something that is also in the best interests of each group. Iraq has to rebuild services and build up its military.
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