They may not do it as often as you’d like but they do do it. This isn’t the first time we’ve noticed, either. A nice report here, encouraging but appropriately skeptical, as was Michael Yon’s segment on the recent quiet in Basra.

Luckily, Time is onhand to cop a squat over the punchbowl:

The unmentioned reasons behind the slow actions of Maliki’s government range from deeply ingrained sectarianism in Iraqi security forces to incompetence and graft among government officials. That has left a feeble Iraqi government clearly unable to maintain and further the gains in security made with the help of U.S. surge forces, which are set to dwindle in the months ahead according to the original surge plan.

The prognosis for Iraq, barring a dynamic transformation on the part of the Iraqi government very soon, is grimly apparent. As U.S. forces lessen their presence in the coming months, killings of the kind seen Monday in Diyala will persist there and most likely spread to areas calmed by the increase of U.S. forces. Rising Shi’ite militia unrest in southern Iraq will go on unchecked, leaving the fate of Iraq’s richest and most populous territory uncertain. Recently subdued Anbar Province will operate as a kind of Sunni semi-independent emirate, barring any meaningful administration from a central government, much as the northern Kurdish territory already does. And Baghdad will be on edge, watching for signs that the relative calm in the city may be giving way to another wave of violence.

To some extent, pacification has a momentum all its own. Iraqis in areas who have been through hell and taken back their neighborhoods with awakening-type movements will act more quickly to tamp down any resurgence. Al Qaeda seems to be at its nadir inside the country, too. The X-factor, as always, is Sadr (and SCIRI). We’re obviously not going to disarm him or cripple the JAM at this point. If some sort of rough normalcy returns to the country, it’ll be because he wants it that way, for the moment. Think of him as a trillion gallons of water held back by a creaky dam — which isn’t creaky at all, of course, according to the Iraqi government. Click the image to watch.

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Update: Numerous people are pointing out in the comments that CNN’s bar graph, for whatever dopey reason, is out of whack proportionally. Here, via Slublog, is what the bars should look like:

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