In the Arena

Today’s Iraq Roundup

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ABC News is reporting that all regular Army units will be extended for three months, in order to maintain the surge through the end of the year. This confirms my earlier reporting that Petraeus and his team were chafing against the administration-imposed timeline of “progress,” perhaps even pulling troops out, by August. As I’ve written before, the surge is a glacier: slow-moving, with any possible success (a very dim prospect) coming three or more years down the road.

Which is why the administration is having so much trouble finding a military czar to run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going,” said retired Marine Gen. John J. “Jack” Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job.

Juan Cole’s plan to get us out of Iraq is fine, in principle. But I have trouble with sentences like the first half of this one:

The Shiites will have to demobilize the Mahdi Army and Badr Organization as well, and Iran will have to commit to working with the Maliki government to make that happen.

It’s pretty obvious that groups like the Mahdi Army and Badr Organization are the Shiites. They control the Maliki government. They aren’t going to demobilize themselves–especially when it seems obvious that the future of Shiite, and therefore Arab, Iraq is going to be determined by an internecine tussle between the two groups (which is to say the Hakim and Sadr families and friends). I wish I could be as optimistic as Cole that a solution is possible, but there are too many moving pieces here with too many conflicting agendas.