So shocked is CNN anchor John Roberts that he repeats the question — twice — to make sure he’s understood him correctly. Kudos to Roberts too for calling him on the goalpost-shifting here. Faced with the undeniable fact of the Anbar awakening (well, almost undeniable), the Democrats have subtly shifted from Reid’s and Pelosi’s and Edwards’s line that the surge has failed to the more nuanced (and more accurate) line that the political process has failed. Entirely true and entirely undisputed, from leftist bete noires O’Hanlon and Pollack on down to warmongering wingnut embed bloggers. More on that in a moment, but first click the image to watch.
Follow the last link and read Bill’s thoughtful analysis about the six-month window we’re looking at, noting especially his point about translating the Anbar military gains into provincial political gains. The more I read about infrastructure problems, especially the point that Iraqi interpreter made to Totten about electricity, the more I think that part of it is just as important as military progress. But that’s unlikely to get better in the near term and likely to get considerably worse. John Burns echoes another point made by the interpreter which isn’t going to be fixed anytime soon, if it’s ever fixed at all:
I would have spent more of my energies trying to write about what lay beneath, if you will, a carapace of terror here, the deeply fissured sectarian society that was just below the surface and into which the United States was stepping. Five years on from when I arrived here in Iraq, I have a much better sense of that history.
And it leads me now to the conclusion that this probably was a mission impossible from the start because of the fissured society and because of the deeply wounded psyche of that society. They had been bludgeoned, mercilessly bludgeoned, for — we say 24 years of Saddam Hussein, but under the Baath Party for 30 years. And this was not a normal place the United States stepped into it in 2003 and it was certainly not for that reason, as well as many others, fertile ground in which to implant Western democratic ideals.
Which brings us to our own goalpost-shifting. Western ideals are now by the boards; a country that doesn’t devolve into ethnic cleansing is pretty much all the right is after.
I haven’t linked Roggio in awhile so check out what U.S. troops are doing to the Shiite militias while operations against Al Qaeda draw all the headlines. A rare case of Shiite action against the U.S. got the front page treatment in the Times today thanks to the upsurge in EFP attacks in July. That upsurge, or “countersurge” if you prefer, has been in the works for a long time now. What Roggio describes is what’s known as payback.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown’s counting on Bush to announce a drawdown of U.S. troops after Petraeus’s report in September, presumably to make the Brits’ own disastrous withdrawal from Basra look slightly less disastrous by comparison.