Video: O'Hanlon and Pollack on military progress and the nutroots backlash

Emphasis on military. There’s no political progress whatsoever to speak of.

I wonder if they deliberately chose Fox for this just to squirt a little more lemon juice in the nutroots’ eyes or if Fox was the only outfit that was willing to have them on.


The latter, I’m guessing.

Note what O’Hanlon says about a soft partition. Southern Iraq may already be moving in that direction politically, and energy scarcity is leading the country’s provinces towards the same mindset by forcing them to start hoarding electricity from each other, with hideous consequences. It’s 120 degrees at the start of the hottest month of the year and the power’s down in Baghdad, with cascade effects on the water supply, sewage pumps, and gasoline shortages already having begun:

One of the biggest problems facing the national grid is the move by provinces to disconnect their power plants from the system, reducing the amount of electricity being generated across the country. Provinces say they have no choice because they are not getting as much electricity in return for what they produce, mainly because the capital requires so much power…

Compounding the problem, al-Shimari said there are 17 high-tension lines running into Baghdad but only two were operational. The rest had been sabotaged.

“What makes Baghdad the worst place in the country is that most of the lines leading into the capital have been destroyed. That is compounded by the fact that Baghdad has limited generating capacity,” al-Shimari said.


God only knows what’s going to happen if the worst fears prove true and the national grid collapses. Part of Gen. Odierno’s strategy for the surge was stabilizing things to the point where reconstruction could begin in new areas and young men would choose jobs over jihad. With the power down, you’re going to end up with the opposite effect.

A few other Iraq links for you. The two Newsweek articles on suicide bombers are good reading, especially the first one. It’s hard to choose one money passage from both piece — the disgruntled Jordanian who blew himself up to protest being deported by ICE is a strong contender — but this one is the most important so this one it is:

The Saudis say they’ve spent an average of $1 billion per year patrolling their border with Iraq. But Arabs can travel to Syria visa-free, and often jihadists will transit first through third countries in the gulf or even Europe to hide their trail. Saudis are particularly prized because they typically bring their own funds to pay the Syrian go-betweens who smuggle them into Iraq. That was the route taken by a 21-year-old Saudi last month, who balked at the last minute while on a mission to blow up a key bridge in Ramadi. Police arrested him, and found that his Saudi handlers had given him $1,000 cash in travel expenses. Rubaie agrees with the Americans that Damascus isn’t doing enough to cut off the pipeline. He recalls how hard it was for Iraqi exiles in Damascus to get permission to cross into Iraq during Saddam’s regime: “This is under the iron fist of their intelligence,” he says. “There’s not even a bird that can cross the border without them knowing about it.”


Also worth reading is this mostly tedious collection of bromides by pro-war Harvard academic turned anti-war liberal Canadian MP Michael Ignatieff in the Times. There are a lot of weeds to pick through to find the fruit but it’s there. Just keep looking. E.g.:

As a former denizen of Harvard, I’ve had to learn that a sense of reality doesn’t always flourish in elite institutions. It is the street virtue par excellence. Bus drivers can display a shrewder grasp of what’s what than Nobel Prize winners…

The decision facing the United States over Iraq is paradigmatic of political judgment at its most difficult. Staying and leaving each have huge costs. One thing is clear: The costs of staying will be borne by Americans, while the cost of leaving will be mostly borne by Iraqis. That in itself suggests how American leaders are likely to decide the question…

We might test judgment by asking, on the issue of Iraq, who best anticipated how events turned out. But many of those who correctly anticipated catastrophe did so not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology. They opposed the invasion because they believed the president was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong.

The people who truly showed good judgment on Iraq predicted the consequences that actually ensued but also rightly evaluated the motives that led to the action.


Finally, from Saturday’s WaPo, a wrinkle in the U.S.’s thus-far stunningly successful Anbar strategy: how do you join forces with Sunnis against Al Qaeda when you’re not sure who’s Al Qaeda and who isn’t?

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