This piece, by Lawrence Kaplan, is the smartest thing I’ve read in a while about what’s actually happening on the ground in Iraq. It has the virtue of first-hand reporting from al-Anbar Province and some very good analysis about why the Baghdad “surge” is probably doomed. I differ from Kaplan on one point, however: he’d maintain our troop levels in Baghdad and concentrate the surge on the provinces. I’d withdraw from the civil war in Baghdad, begin pulling our troops out of Iraq–but focus on our long-term national interests: i.e. helping the Sunnis to fight Al Qaeda in al-Anbar.