I want to make a couple of brief comments on Robert Kagan’s piece in the Washington Post this morning. The first is on this observation of Mr. Kagan’s:
Some observers are reporting the shift. Iraqi bloggers Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, widely respected for their straight talk, say that “early signs are encouraging.” The first impact of the “surge,” they write, was psychological. Both friends and foes in Iraq had been convinced, in no small part by the American media, that the United States was preparing to pull out. When the opposite occurred, this alone shifted the dynamic.
I mean no disrespect for Mohammed and Omar with my comment. I thnk they’re very brave—they can be legitimately considered as actually taking their lives in their hands with what they write. Some of what they write is quite useful. And I genuinely find some of their posts rather reassuring (I’m quite certain that last reaction of mine will be called “delusional” by at least one blogger).
The fact is, however popular the Fadhil brothers are with the American Right Blogosphere, they aren’t particularly “widely respected for their straight talk” outside of that sphere. Iraqi bloggers by and large consider them clacks for the Americans or, worse, CIA spies. I’d be happy to provide citations for that. Others find what they write surreal, disconnected from what they’re seeing around them.
And they aren’t even read by the American Left Blogosphere or, no doubt, by the American media.
My second observation is on this part of Mr. Kagan’s article:
It is no coincidence that as the mood and the reality have shifted, political currents have shifted as well. A national agreement on sharing oil revenue appears on its way to approval. The Interior Ministry has been purged of corrupt officials and of many suspected of torture and brutality. And cracks are appearing in the Shiite governing coalition — a good sign, given that the rock-solid unity was both the product and cause of growing sectarian violence.
Yes, there are a few good, largely cosmetic signs. And, yes, fewer deaths in Baghdad, some purged corrupt officials, and a little progress are miles better than more deaths, retention of corrupt officials, and no progress at all. But the militias will be there next year and the year after that and the year after that. Where will the Americans be? Where will the surge be?
IMO there are only two questions to ask about Iraq right now. If we stay how do we build political support for doing so? If we leave, what do we do instead?