Over at RealClearPolitics Michael Barone continues the fantasy today.
Perceptions of Iraq War Are Starting to Shift
It's not often that an opinion article shakes up Washington and changes the way a major issue is viewed. But that happened last week, when The New York Times printed an opinion article by Brookings Institution analysts Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack on the progress of the surge strategy in Iraq.Of course the justification given for the surge was to give the political process and the government time. As we have seen the political situation is even less viable. If there are indeed some military advances they are meaningless if the political climate continues to deteriorate. By the time General Petraeus reports in a month the Iraqis may have no government at all. A few more months is not going to make any difference.
Yes, progress. O'Hanlon and Pollack supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- Pollack even wrote a book urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein -- but they have sharply criticized military operations there in the ensuing years.
"As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq," they wrote, "we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily 'victory,' but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with."
Their bottom line: "There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."
Wishes don't make reality
Bush and his military commanders acted as if that reality hadn't changed, until the voters weighed in last November. Then, Bush made changes, installing new commanders and ordering a surge -- an increase in troops, and a more forward strategy of confronting and cleaning out al-Qaida terrorists. And the reality apparently has once again changed.No Mr Barone, your wishes may not have changed but neither has the reality. King George has created a failed state and the king is running out of horses and men and can't put it back together again.
It can be argued that the surge will prove insufficient to produce the "sustainable stability" that O'Hanlon and Pollack see as a possible result. Serious military experts have argued that we still don't have enough troops or that we won't be able to keep enough troops in place long enough -- current force rotations indicate a net drawdown of troops next spring. And certainly there is room to make the argument that Bush should have acted sooner, as the results of the Samarra bombing became apparent months before the voters' wakeup call.
But it is also reasonably clear that Boyda's "reality of this issue" -- that our effort in Iraq has definitively and finally failed so clearly that there should be no further discussion -- may no longer be operative. That, instead of accepting defeat and inviting chaos, we may be able to achieve a significant measure of success.