Politics

Good News From Iraq?

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NY Times has an editorial today that offers renewed hope for finding solutions to fix the situation over there…

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

This is good news, but it’s not the whole story. The newly formed Iraqi government has to do there part, and…well…that’s not going so good…

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s largest Sunni Arab bloc said Monday that the prime minister’s response to its threat to quit the government if certain programs weren’t adopted has closed the door to reforms.

The Iraq Accordance Front, which has six cabinet members and 44 of Parliament’s 275 seats, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki doesn’t seem to have any intention of dealing constructively with their demands. “He is simply slamming shut the door for reform, and in the light of that the front will be justified if it goes ahead with its plan to quit the government,” said a statement from the lawmakers.

And to that point, the NY Times editorial addresses this…

In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

Until 2008? I’m hesitant because that’ll then turn into 2009 and then 2010 and then…

But if the government doesn’t have their game plan together by early 2008, then adios.