Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Turning the Corner. Again.

I guess it's Fred Kagan's bad luck to have his optimistic "The surge looks like it could be working if you spin around several times, do twenty push-ups, then squint real hard, tilt your head just right, and peek through your fingers!" op-ed published the day after one of the most violent since the start of the Iraq war. But, then, I guess it's all of our bad luck that the President chose to listen to one of the small handfull of scholars in this country who still think that the President's original aims for the war are remotely achievable, rather than the overwhelming majority of Americans who think that it's long past time for a drastic change in policy. A couple comments.
This burgeoning sense of Iraqness can be seen beyond central government. Pictures of the recent Sadrist demonstration in Najaf showed many people carrying Iraqi flags and few carrying pictures of Sadr. The movement's strategists clearly felt a need to show they are Iraqis rather than followers of a particular leader.

The Sadr movement has always been the most stridently nationalistic of Shi'i tendencies in Iraq, and the presence of Iraqi flags at their demonstrations is nothing new. It would be reasonable to expect one of the primary architects of the Surge Strategy to know this.
Americans have been subjected to too much hyperbole about this war from the outset. Excessively rosy scenarios have destroyed the credibility of the administration. The exaggerated certainty of leading war opponents that the conflict is already lost is every bit as misplaced. Too much optimism and pessimism has prevented Americans from accurately evaluating a complex, fluid situation.

Sorry, there is simply no equivalence to be had between the war's advocates and its critics here. At every step, Bush and his water carriers have chosen to believe the rosiest scenarios, and constantly denigrated their fellow Americans who pointed out that those scenarios were completely at odds with observable reality.

Leaving aside that having Kagan review the success of a plan devised by himself, and upon which his credibility rests, (not that he'll lose a dollar of income if it continues to nosedive) is a bit like having Kenny G take to the pages of Downbeat to tout the improvisational fireworks contained within his new album of Hootie and the Blowfish covers, this corner that Kagan claims we may be turning would be about the fiftieth or so corner we've turned, and that's twelve laps, and I'm very tired.

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