Here is my answer to Kenneth Pollack, Michael O’Hanlon and the latest tragic evasion and spin currently circulating in high Democratic circles:
This morning’s story in The Washington Post is accurate and conforms to what I am hearing privately. Many Democrats are again missing the first principle of the matter and treating Iraq in political and tactical terms.
The latest view from Democrats is to adopt their politics and tactics around the proposition that the Iraq escalation is working but the Iraq leaders are not.
Confronted with an obsessed and intransigent president, Republicans in Congress who are endlessly submissive to presidential power and disastrous policies, and a Democratic national security establishment that is incoherent and careerist, the most likely outcome in September is this:
The president will win full support for the full escalation without any effective limitation in what would be the third disastrous Democratic failure in the new Congress, the first being its surrender on Iraq before the May recess, the second being its surrender on the Constitution before the August recess.
This need not be. However, at this time, it is the most probable outcome, unless something changes. Let’s first understand that this was never a surge; that was a propaganda term. It was an escalation currently on course to continue for at least a year and a half, and very possibly longer, if Congress submits again.
Let’s get this straight: Any success in Anbar is not because of the surge, but because of the deals made with Sunni insurgents who shortly before the deals were killing Americans, and who are now receiving American aid. This would have happened with or without the surge.
Second, in my view, history will show these deals as a catastrophic mistake. Setting aside the moral and strategic issue of giving money and (directly or indirectly) weapons to those who were recently killing Americans, the end game of these deals depends on the end game of Iraqi politics.
If one believes, as I do, that the government of Iraq (no matter who is prime minister) is unable ever to reach a reconciliation that includes Sunnis and Shi’ites, the aid America is now giving to Sunni insurgents will ultimately be used to kill Shi’ites, and possibly Americans, in escalated sectarian war.
This growing Democratic spin is incoherent. One cannot argue that the Iraqi political system is failing but the surge is succeeding. If the Iraqi political system continues to fail, the surge, or more accurately the escalation, must also fail, because, in effect, the status quo ante is that America is today arming all sides in the sectarian war of Iraq.
If one believes the Iraqi government will not achieve reconciliation, the end game of the status quo is this: We will be asked to continue escalated American military force forever, with the argument that if we do not, there will be genocide when we leave.
If one believes the Iraqi government will not achieve reconciliation, by arming all sides of the sectarian war simultaneously, we will be told that we must stay forever militarily, because the more we arm all sides, the greater the genocide when we leave.
In purely military terms, under the escalation there have been short-term gains in some areas, short-term setbacks in other areas, and a shifting of al Qaeda attacks from some areas to other areas.
In purely political terms, the escalation has had the exact opposite of its marketed intent: Iraqi reconciliation has moved backwards, as parties view our simultaneous aid to all warring factions as reason to avoid, not achieve, reconciliation.
Don’t be surprised if there is a phony Iraqi government initiative designed to win the vote in September. Don’t be surprised if all Sunni and Shi’ite sectarian warriors make soundings of reconciliation so they can continue to receive American aid, and don’t be surprised if Maliki is replaced through a coup or no-confidence vote, in time for our vote, in September.
In short, they all take our money (and in fact our weapons) as they position to kill each other when we leave, and, in the meantime, take our aid and wait us out.
In truth, a growing faction close to President Bush privately favors a new “Iraqi strongman” to establish some form of authoritarian rule.