"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."There may be people who have been wrong as often as Bill Kristol but there can't be anyone who has been wrong more often. Today we have this:
~Willaim Kristol, April 4th, 2003
Defeatists in retreat.
The news from Iraq has been terrible this week. Even defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs nominee Navy Adm. Michael Mullen admitted that the Iraqis are no where near a functional government. But not the delusional and always wrong Bill Kristol - he thinks the tide has turned and in no time at all everyone will be behind his war.
For the Iraq war's opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military analysts--Democrats, no less!--reporting that the situation on the ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable. It began with a plan for a series of votes in Congress that were supposed to stampede nervous Republicans against the continued prosecution of the war. It ended with the GOP spine stiffened, no antiwar legislation passed, and the Democratic Congress adjourning in disarray, with approval ratings lower than President Bush's. It began with Democratic presidential candidates competing in their antiwar pandering. It ended with them having second thoughts--with Barack Obama, losing ground to Hillary Clinton because he seemed naive about real world threats, frantically suggesting that he would invade Pakistan.Yes, he and all the other lunatic neocons will be proven right and the US will prevail in Iraq. He ignores the fact that current troop levels can only be sustained until March and that nothing is going to change on the Iraqi political front between now and then. In fact it will probably get worse.
Others are not so delusional. E&P reported last week the Bush and War supporter the Dallas Morning News has had enough.
"Americans had reasonable expectations that an invasion of such magnitude would include a viable, well-orchestrated postwar plan to bring stability and democracy to Iraq.My own right leaning newspaper, The Oregonian has also had enough. It too was a supporter of the war until recently.
"How wrong we were. The administration has stumbled and improvised through one bad war plan after another, exposing our troops to unacceptable danger. ....This editorial board, having reservedly supported the war in 2003, feels a moral responsibility to help fix this mess, not walk away from it.
"Before Washington politicians reduce the debate to either-or options of total withdrawal vs. commitment to the current course, we think there needs to be a Plan B: Reorienting U.S. troops' mission in Iraq, reducing their levels and getting them out of harm's way....
"Americans are being asked for a level of patience that they do not have and that the White House has not earned. It is time for Iraqi troops to take over this fight, even if it means risking full-blown civil war."
R amadi, Iraq, they say, has become a place where Americans can walk without body armor. Certain neighborhoods in Baghdad have begun to open up again to shoppers and pedestrians. Sectarian murders across Iraq apparently have declined in recent months, although it's hard to know for sure.
In such limited, but promising ways, the troop "surge" is having positive effects. It's clear that Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy was a better military approach than those conducted by earlier generals, like the first occupying commander, Richardo Sanchez.
But what does this mean now? How likely is it that the game in Iraq has really changed?
These are the big questions that loom over Petraeus' scheduled report to Congress in mid-September. Between the encouraging progress reports from Iraq and President Bush's increasing emphasis on the wisdom of his general and the villainy of al-Qaida, it seems that the United States is being braced for another appeal for more time and, maybe, more troops.
The surge was supposed to create social conditions that would allow Iraq's civil authorities to assert themselves. But that isn't happening. There's no oil-revenue-sharing agreement. Maliki has grown bitter and angry about the way Petraeus has enlisted Sunnis to fight al-Qaida. And Sunnis have no faith that Maliki will restrain Shiite militias.
Even in the most encouraging places in Iraq, such as Ramadi, does anybody really think that Sunni Arabs have changed their minds about the Shiite-dominated government or about the American presence in Iraq? They have joined with U.S. commanders to reject al-Qaida in some places and that's encouraging, but for them, the alliance with the U.S. military is a marriage of convenience -- and, in all likelihood, a temporary one.
For the United States to re-commit to its occupation of Iraq, Petraeus would have to do much more than report some encouraging signals. When he talks to a skeptical Congress next month, he would have to knock it out of the park. And that may be too much for him or the administration to hope for.