Are Things Getting Better in Iraq? Two Changed Minds
Carroll Andrew Morse has done a nice job of summarizing and analyzing the piece in today’s New York Times by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Insitute. There’s not much that I can add. But NRO has asked me to contribute to a symposium on the piece that will appear tomorrow. Here’s what I wrote:
What is most interesting about this article is not what it says—I have been making the same points now for some time—but who is saying it. If Bill Kristol or Fred Kagan—or even our own Tom Smith—were to write such an article, the skeptics most assuredly would immediately dismiss it as repeating White House talking points. But the fact that two severe critics of the Bush administration’s management of the war—from a think tank usually described as liberal to boot—have published such a piece in the New York Times of all places might, under normal circumstances, give opponents of the war pause.
The security situation in Iraq is clearly improving. The worn-out cliché that an insurgency cannot be defeated by military means alone is true as far as it goes, but security is sine qua non of stability in a counterinsurgency. The fact that the Sunni sheiks have been turning against al Qaeda and the other Salafi groups and the Shia have, to a lesser extent, rejected Sadr’s Mahdi army bodes well for security in the long run.
But does it matter at this point? Time is running out, not in Iraq but in Washington DC where, as more than one commentator has pointed out, the Democratic majority in Congress and the party’s presidential candidates all seem to have opted for defeat. Thanks to these geniuses and the Republican girly-men who enable them, we may be on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.