In the Arena

Surge Update

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You remember that the primary goal of the so-called surge was to provide “space” for “political reconciliation” among the contending parties. You also remember that General David Petraeus and others have said repeatedly that a military victory in this war is not possible; that it can only be settled by the Iraqi politicians. Well, according to the Washington Post–and this will come as a great surprise, I’m sure–it ain’t happening. In fact, here’s what the Shi’ites have to say about our recent successes in al-Anbar province:

The U.S. effort to recruit Sunni tribesmen to join the police force and fight the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq was strongly opposed last week by Shiite officials, who asserted that the Sunni recruits were killing innocent people under the guise of fighting insurgents.
“We demand that the American administration stop this adventure, which is rejected by all the sons of the people and its national political powers,” the leading Shiite political coalition said in a statement. “Their elements are criminals who cannot be trusted or relied upon.

OK. So remind me again, what’s the mission at this point? I mean, seriously: What specifically are the metrics of success? What is the military goal–if not providing the space for reconciliation? What is the political side of the plan? This seems like basic stuff, but we haven’t heard it from the Administration. This sort of strategic focus has to come from higher than Petraeus- and Crocker-level operatives. The incompetence, the lack of rigor is mind-boggling.