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Where is the political progress in Iraq
Posted by: Jon Henke on Sunday, September 30, 2007

While I'm glad about the (for the moment, anyway) lower death toll, I think commentary like this is deeply misguided.
Shockah! Major Progress in Iraq, Media Still Stuck on Stupid

If you look at the numbers in Iraq for the almost concluded month of September, you’ll find an encouraging story. This month saw 61 American casualties. That’s down from 84 a month ago and 126 in May at the surge’s peak. [...] On both the left and the right, we’ve had a shared philosophical understanding that the best hard number to indicate the state of play in Iraq is the amount of civilian casualties. In September (so far), 813 Iraqi civilians have died violent deaths. That’s down from 1674 the month before and roughly 3,000 in what would have been a bad pre-surge month. [...] If you expected to flip open your edition of the Sunday Times or the Sunday Globe and see a thoughtful piece on what was a very successful September, you were sadly mistaken.
The purpose of the surge was to provide the security space for political reconciliation - not promises, not continued negotiations, but genuine political settlement that reins in the militias, pacifies the Sunnis and puts the Iraqi security forces in a position of trust and responsibility.

Here's a good rule of thumb: if supporters are pointing to death/casualty statistics instead of concrete political progress that replaces the need for US troops, then the surge is not working.

 
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Jon, I understand your point. But there’s another one that needs to be made. Iraq war opponents have been shouting "Civil war! People dying left and right! Death and destruction!" for a long time. Before we can even get to discussing the political process, that mantra has to be muted.

That, in and of itself, takes time and repetition. It’s not enough just to say it once and move on - any trained marketing person could tell you that. We’ve had years of repetition of how violent Iraq is, and therefore a change will take some hard emphasis and repetition before it takes hold with the common citizen, who doesn’t pay nearly as much attention to the whole thing as we do.

The political process needs stability as a pre-requisite. The media seems uninterested in telling any story that indicates increasing stability. So that leaves it to the partisans to do it. I don’t see how it detracts from the debate for them to do that. I don’t read that piece you quoted as saying that decreasing violence is the only indicator of success, just that it’s the only one in which we can get hard numbers.

I think it’s also a reasonable viewpoint to view metrics on violence as a proxy for political success. It’s an imperfect one, to be sure, but it can be measured, and there is a relationship. After all, if Iraq is peaceful and most of it is economically successful, it doesn’t matter nearly as much that the legislators can’t seem to agree on anything.

There may come a time when it makes sense to just discuss the political process, since that is indeed the end goal. I don’t think that implies that it’s yet time to stop discussing quelling the violence, since that’s a step on the way to the ultimate goal.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Not always Jon

Iraq war opponents and the media have chosen to make body counts the informational battle ground.

So it is quite appropriate to engage using that metric.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
One of the impediments to political progress is supposedly the Security.

So its probably important to try to track security. They are not disconnected.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Shark,

I just think we ought to be better than them. In matter of war and peace, credibility matter. The popularity of this war has more to do with people trust in the administration than the actual war itself. If the administration at the very beginning promised people "blood, sweat, and tear" instead of "this is easy," we would be in much better place.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://
Before we can even get to discussing the political process, that mantra has to be muted.

Billy, where must that mantra be muted? In the US? Keep in mind that Iraqi politicians are not immobilized by the US anti-war movement, they are immobilized by their refusal to compromise with one another and trust one another. Playing cheerleader to quiet the American left is not the same as giving an honest assessment of the overall situation.

Iraqis are well aware that one of the impediments to political progress is supposedly the Security. And that one of the impediments to security is the lack political progress. But I think that Jon’s point is that at the end of the day, you can’t call the surge a success just because it gives a temporary movement in the right direction on only one of those two issues. We want it to be successful, but we have to measure it by the correct metrics, or we are being dishonest.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
We want it to be successful, but we have to measure it by the correct metrics, or we are being dishonest.
Absolutely.

The surge IS working, to the extent that it is creating a better environment for political reconcliliation, but actual success requires that the political reconciliation actually happen, and the military, no matter how successul it is, cannot make the political reconciliation suceed. That is up to the Iraqi’s, and whether they will succeed is far from answered.

We’ve done (and are doing) our job.

Now it’s time for the Iraqis to do theirs.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Keep in mind that Iraqi politicians are not immobilized by the US anti-war movement, they are immobilized by their refusal to compromise with one another and trust one another.
They are not immobilized by the anti-war movement, but it’s naive to think they don’t pay any attention to it. Before they put their own credibility on the line for political compromises, they have to be convinced that the US will do what’s necessary to help maintain security until the Iraqis can handle it unassisted.

If Pelosi and company get the lion’s share of the attention here with the "Iraq is a disaster" mantra, than that definitely impacts the ability of the Iraqis to come to a reconciliation.

I take your point that they find it hard to deal with one another. But that’s not the only factor interfering with political progress.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if supporters are pointing to death/casualty statistics instead of concrete political progress that replaces the need for US troops, then the surge is not working.
If there was a "drop dead" requirement for the "concrete political progress" to have hit some particular mark by now, you’d have a point.

There wasn’t one.

So you don’t.

And just to mention it, what do you think the spread of the Anbar Awakening to mixed Sunni/Sh’ite areas is but political progress?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
If Pelosi and company get the lion’s share of the attention here with the "Iraq is a disaster" mantra, than that definitely impacts the ability of the Iraqis to come to a reconciliation.
Nonsense, if war opposition is having an effect, the effect is to encourage political solutions before we give up on them.

When the President sends the message that our patience is not unlimited, war opponents in government make that message real.

Many people believe that political reconciliation is impossible under the current geo-political structure, regardless of how well our military improves the environment. This is part of the reason why the Biden resolution endorsing federalization passed so resoundingly, with bi-partisan support.

Here’s what Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson had to say on why he voted with the Democrats, and half of the Republicans in the Senate on this issue.

"It really acknowledged that the continuing violence in part is a product of the lack of reconciliation, which is the reality of making that government work," Isakson said of the Biden proposal. "I didn’t see anything in that that was inconsistent with what we ought to all want, and that is a reconciled Iraq with a functioning government. If you have reconciliation, the odds are you won’t have the violence or you won’t have as much of it."
And just to mention it, what do you think the spread of the Anbar Awakening to mixed Sunni/Sh’ite areas is but political progress?
This is not political progress, this is military success that creates the environment for political progress to occur, but the political progress sought is not local, but political movement at the national level toward becoming a stable state. The success in Anbar should help this process, but so far results have been... well, there have not been any results.



 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
If there was a "drop dead" requirement for the "concrete political progress" to have hit some particular mark by now, you’d have a point.

Ah, the ’absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’ argument. The fact that we can’t see concrete progress means nothing! Well, I’m sure it feels good to believe that political progress will spring fully grown from Nouri al-Maliki’s forehead at the last second, with no hint of such progress beforehand except for his terrible headache, but some of us would prefer to be more rational. I believe in the progress I see. So far, that’s been military, not political. Keep me posted.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
if war opposition is having an effect, the effect is to encourage political solutions before we give up on them.
Nonsense. The war opposition encourages the differing groups in Iraq to fight and jockey for the best position WRT the other groups, so they can be in their best position for the time after we leave.

If they understand we’ll stay for as long as it takes, acceptable security is established—the condition we are creating with our current COIN approach—then they have both an environment for rapprochement, and nothing to gain by avoiding it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
Ah, the ’absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’ argument. The fact that we can’t see concrete progress means nothing!
We do see concrete progress. It is bottom up, not top down.

You’d have to make the case stick that bottom up progress is not happening to have a point.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
Iraq war opponents and the media have chosen to make body counts the informational battle ground.
No shock, this; They used the same tactic for Vietnam.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Nonsense, if war opposition is having an effect, the effect is to encourage political solutions before we give up on them.
You’re conflating two different things. Letting Iraqi politicans know that patience is not open ended is indeed constructive. But that’s not what the war opposition does.

The war opposition is devoted to ending our involvement there as soon as possible, regardless of any indications of progress, political or otherwise. It’s impossible for something to be a carrot if getting it isn’t contingent on behavior. The Iraqis can’t count on the anti-war to give them any more time if they’re making progress; to the left, it’s all impossible anyway, so they want to get out as soon as they can manage to find a political way to accomplish that in America.

That introduces an element of uncertainty into the calculations of Iraqi politicians. What if they make concessions (that presumably lead to progress on the political front), and then get the rug pulled out from under them by a sudden American pullout driven by the anti-war left?

So the incessant demands of the left to get us out now, coupled with their insistence that the reason is that it’s all a disaster anyway, does not help the Iraqi politicians directly. To the extent that it drives Bush to hold the Iraqi politicians to some kind of progress benchmarks, it may help indirectly. Bush may be able to say "Look, I can hold off these kooks if you guys make some progress. But if you don’t get something done, all bets are off."

If, however, the political situation here is so volatile that the Iraqis don’t believe Bush can hold the line, then they’ve got no reason to be make concessions and compromises necessary for progress. Anyone who made such concessions would be seen as a weak leader if the whole think blew up because of an American pullout.

So if they think a sudden pullout might happen at any time, their best strategy may be to hunker down and wait for us to leave, and do their best to win in the ensuing battle, which is likely to be bloody. That’s what the intractability of the left gets us if they carry the day - an increased likelihood of failure because they refuse to recognize signs of success.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
So if they think a sudden pullout might happen at any time, their best strategy may be to hunker down and wait for us to leave, and do their best to win in the ensuing battle, which is likely to be bloody.
You make a sound argument, but your claims give the pretense that we could have an anti-war element that did not argue for summary withdrawel from Iraq. If the anti-war faction in America were arguing that we need to get out of Iraq as soon as possible, once the reconciliation is accomplished, then it would be indistinguishable from the pro-war argument. The obvious extension is that ANY opposition to our presence in Iraq promotes intransigence.

If Iraqi’s with the power to advance and promote reconciliation prefer to see us leave without political reconiliation, then there will be no political reconciliation, and this is already over. If political reconciliation can be accomplished in Iraq with our assistance, than it only helps for those with the power to make this happen to show real progress soon, and US political opponents should only serve to encourage more immediate action. If intrasigent elements can prevent this now, why do you assume that they cannot prevent it for the foreseeable future?

Part of the problem is knowing where the intransigence lies. We know the Sunni’s and Shia are at odds, and neither is giving enough to make reconciliation happen. The Shia are blaming the Sunni and the Sunni are blaming the Shia. So the question is, who does intransigence help? I have my opinions on this, but it’s irrelevant to how or whether Iraqis will solve it.


I favor the Biden plan for precisely this reason. We can separate the sectarian elements and from there determine where the intransigence lies. But of course if we maintain the pretense of an autonomous government in Iraq, then our opinion on federalization is only a suggestion we can make.

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Iraq war opponents and the media have chosen to make body counts the informational battle ground.
If that’s the war you’re concerning about winning, then touting metrics only tangentially relevant to the Iraq war might be useful. But, much like "running yards" doesn’t equal victory in football, casualty statistics don’t equal victory/defeat in war.
If they understand we’ll stay for as long as it takes, acceptable security is established—the condition we are creating with our current COIN approach—then they have both an environment for rapprochement, and nothing to gain by avoiding it.
This is precisely the wrongheadedness that permeates the writing/blogging/opining of the pro-Iraq war crowd. It’s dangerous and it’s foolish, and it’s being written by people who should know better.

It is an unfalsifiable "if we never leave, we’ll always be around the corner from victory!"

For years now, I have been reading the "look at some progress here" or "casualty rates declined there" posts, always pointing to some sort of progress that the Left/Media/critics is ignoring. Yet, those anecdotes are rarely, if ever, followed by substantive political progress.

Despite that, those people continue to decry the media/Left/critics for somehow being unaware of progress. After 4 years of listening to these people, I see no reason whatsoever to trust them more than the critics, whose predictions and judgments have been correct.

It’s been four years of "look at our progress" from supporters, and it’s quite apparent that those people just don’t know what they’re talking about. They are engaged in wishful thinking - a sincere hope that things will work out well - but they have no metrics, no cost/benefit calculation, and no apparent awareness that they’ve been wrong all along.

I hope for genuine political progress in Iraq, but the "look at this latest security statistic" nonsense is coming from people who have no metric but "maybe there will be a pony around the next corner!"

Thus, "the last chance" turns into "six more months" into "wait until September" and so forth and so on. That is not critical analysis, it is foolishness.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The surge IS working,
I read that and saw who posted it then I was overcome with blindness for 30 mins from sheer shock.

:)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Jaw Jaw is better than war war. If the Sunnis & Shia are in negotiations it’s better than a sectarian civil war. If they are taking a long time to negotiate a deal, well, there is a lot at stake.

The more time we buy them, the bigger and stronger the Iraqi military becomes, which I think is actually more important than political progress in some ways as long as the civil war doesn’t resume. I say this because some of these political issues may need to be resolved via elections rather than negotiations and they are farther off.

Heck, if all the surge did was stop the civil war long enough for the discussion to become political, its still a partial success.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I think there is a vast overestimation about the impact over there of what happens within the American political discourse. The idea that somehow anti-war arguments here causes politicians to make less progress there is misguided. The reasons there is no real progress there are: 1) Corruption. We did a horrible job after the war in trying to limit corruption, and now Iraq is like most third world states without governmental stability, tremendously corrupt. That cuts away at all efforts to build a ’normal’ economy and true rule of law; 2) sectarian differences. I don’t just mean the violence, but the way in which every aspect of Iraqi wealth and life is seen as a zero-sum sectarian game. That makes corruption even more engrained, with rule of law second to inside deals (or violence); 3) foreign penetration. Both the US and Iran want to shape the future of Iraq, and in each case Iraqis veer between trying to use their foreign ’helpers,’ or avoiding dependence upon them. This only deepens corruption and works against true rule of law.

Americans over-estimate the importance of our political debate on the rest of the world. Sure, they know America is divided and most people disapprove of how the President is handling the war. They see the big picture, but the daily rhetoric is something that even most Americans hardly notice. Political junkies live and breath it, and hence over-estimate its importance.

But hey, deaths are down. Now if you want to be charitable, its time for the Iraqis to show that they can use this breathing space to actually make something happen politically. So far, there is little reason for optimism. And if the Iraqis can’t make it happen, any surge success will soon be forgotten.

(Oh, and contrary to the post quoted by Jon, I’m seeing the lower death story all over the ’mainstream’ news).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run."

At least with regard to the debate over military progress in Iraq, Jon, you demonstrate the good sense to "know when to fold em" in light of the new September numbers, and move on to other ways of arguing that the surge isn’t working.

Despite those numbers, there will still be many on the left who just can’t bring themselves to concede military progress in Iraq.
 
Written By: hfinn
URL: http://
I read that and saw who posted it then I was overcome with blindness for 30 mins from sheer shock.

:)
Don’t get too giddy, our military services have finally been allowed to execute an excellent COIN strategy, and though I agree it provides the best chance for political reconciliation, I have almost no confidence that such a reconciliation will occur under the current geo-political-ethnic scenario present in Iraq. But we are closer to knowing whether this is the case, and thankfully, fewer of our soldiers and Marines are paying the price while we wait.

I have never been in favor of an immediate withdrawel, it’s a politically expedient thing to say, but I don’t think that the even the majority of pols saying this would actually do it summarily.

Kucinich is probably the only guy who would order wholesale immediate withdrawel, and he is polling in the mid nothings.
Despite those numbers, there will still be many on the left who just can’t bring themselves to concede military progress in Iraq.
I agree. After four years of the Administration saying there was progress when there wasn’t, a lot of folks on the left, maybe some on the right, just aren’t bothering to look at the facts on the ground and are just assuming the Adminstration is just crying "progress" again. Still, many of them, just think that military progress is the easy part, and that political solutions are the hard part, and are not imminent regardless of military successes.

That said, military success has bought time for political solutions, now it’s up to Iraq to make the best of that time.

Cap


 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Erb, corruption should be working in our favor. If the politicians in Iraq are corrupt, they realize that they need to keep their nation together and win the war to keep getting the pay-offs. In fact, they should be really worried now, since if we leave, they will probably be replaced by, uhhhhh, not so friendly types who may kill them, even if they escape into exile.

Also, I think corruption is pretty much the norm for most of the world. Might as well try to have the sky painted pink. (yes, yes, we should do our best, but sometimes its simply not possible.)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Erb, corruption should be working in our favor.
You’re kidding right?

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Captain Sarcastic,

No I am not kidding. You only get to take juicy cuts from aid programs and siphon off oil money if the US stays. I guess the Shia can hope Iran will fund them at the same level.

If it goes back to civil war and we leave, there will be no more aid. The oil money will be harder to steal since pipeline attacks and such will rise. And certain militias may win and decide to depose the current officials.

I am not saying we should like corruption or not work to fight it, but its one thing we do have a lot of: money. The patronage alone works in our favor. You can be an insurgent tribal sheikh with prestige and a little money, or work for the Americans and deliver a lot of bacon. (Hmmm, maybe they’d want a different fatty substance in the metaphor, camel hump?)

Even without direct corruption, you’d still have millions in contracts for reconstruction, etc.

"I think there is a vast overestimation about the impact over there of what happens within the American political discourse. The idea that somehow anti-war arguments here causes politicians to make less progress there is misguided."

Well, the Senate plan to split up Iraq managed to get 11 parties in Iraq angry and they might pass a law specifically against splitting Iraq up. So, I guess people there are listening to what we do here. So you are wrong in that these kinds of statement don’t have an impact. Now, is that impact for good or bad? I think it depends on the situation.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
BTW, I am referring to corruption working in our favor for a political agreement, not working in our favor in setting up strong institutions, etc.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
At least with regard to the debate over military progress in Iraq, Jon, you demonstrate the good sense to "know when to fold em" in light of the new September numbers, and move on to other ways of arguing that the surge isn’t working.
No, I’ve merely understood that security statistics are merely a means to an end. They are not the end, themselves. It does not matter what the security statistics say - if they don’t translate into genuine political settlement that replaces US security forces with Iraqi security forces, then the surge is an unmitigated national security failure.
That said, military success has bought time for political solutions, now it’s up to Iraq to make the best of that time.
It is also our responsibility to make a clear-eyed judgment about whether they are making that progress or not - whether we are providing them the security space to create a sustainable, (roughly) pluralistic political system....or just enabling their continued fight for sectarian interests.

To date, it has always been cover for internal power struggles. Absent a US threat to stop subsidizing their power struggle and let them face the consequences of their inability to reach a political settlement, it’s hard to see why that would cease to be the case.

Perhaps they won’t reach a settlement if we withdraw our security subsidy, either, but we’ll have more leverage to reach end-game than if we merely prolong the ongoing internal and proxy wars.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Erb, corruption should be working in our favor. If the politicians in Iraq are corrupt, they realize that they need to keep their nation together and win the war to keep getting the pay-offs. In fact, they should be really worried now, since if we leave, they will probably be replaced by, uhhhhh, not so friendly types who may kill them, even if they escape into exile.
What corruption prevents is a stable democratic government governed by rule of law. Corruption also exacerbates ethnic tensions. Corruption can only work in our favor by pushing the country to a kind of authoritarian stability. But, as Nigeria shows, corruption plus ethnic differences can be very difficult.

Also, I’m not sure what you mean in the last sentence — who will replace them if we leave? I think they’re already getting an insurance policy from the Iranians that they’ll stay in power.

Also, I think corruption is pretty much the norm for most of the world. Might as well try to have the sky painted pink. (yes, yes, we should do our best, but sometimes its simply not possible.)
Perhaps so, but with that level of corruption you don’t get rule of law or a stable democracy. You don’t get "Model Iraq" to spread throughout the Mideast. If we really wanted Iraq to be a model for the region, anti-corruption needed to be job one. It wasn’t even on the list of priorities. At the very least, we shouldn’t feed the corruption problem, that can create greater problems down the line.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Perhaps so, but with that level of corruption you don’t get rule of law or a stable democracy."

I am not so sure that 100% true. How does India fare on the corruption index? Indonesia? Turkey? It’s a mixed bag for sure, and in fact democracy helps lower corruption eventually. Elections do provide incentives for the political process if there is patronage to distribute and horse trading can even be easier with some corruptive oil in the machinery.

Look, even by just going through the Tribal chiefs to plan development projects is essentially giving them power over the contract, giving them influence, etc. Is that more corrupt than a sealed contract bid open to any company in the world, overseen by Bureau Veritas? Yes, it sure is. But is also a way to have leverage and influence in the war for hearts and minds. The heavier corruption like stealing soldiers wages, etc. are worse, but it is their government. Do you want us to be the colonial regime or do you want Iraqis to control their own fate? Each has its advantages.

And what I mean by the politicians having to worry about their future if we leave is simple: If there is a return to civil war, Sadr isn’t going to want to be just a party in a Shia dominated state. Neither will the Badr people. They will have their own internal wars until one party comes out on top, or the Shia areas will fracture rather like Kurdistan is now with each party having their own areas, militias, etc. If we leave, this will not be like Vietnam where there is only a single power that can fill the vacuum. Think Somalia.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Also, I think you are choosing corruption as job one simply because its a pretty un-winnable battle unless you take over running the country like in Kosovo or maybe Bosnia. If you allow the locals to run their own affairs, well, corruption can surely occur and what can you do about that? Ask nicely I guess.

I think the priority now would be security, democracy, economy and then corruption.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I think the priority now would be security, democracy, economy and then corruption.
Harun, I don’t think you can have real democracy and economic growth with corruption at these levels. It undercuts those efforts. You can have authoritarian security, and if you get the right authoritarian you might be able to get economic growth and move to democracy down the line...but that tends to work best in homgenuous countries with a more stable political culture. So I remain very pessimistic about positive political developments coming from Iraq, or for security to become long term. Militias are still there, armed, and who knows what they ’re planning or what can set off another wave of violence. Unless you limit (not eliminate — that is impossible) the corruption, this will be another resource-rich state unable to use their resources for positive development.

I hope I’m wrong, but I think the structure and reality of Iraq’s political situation points to real problems ahead regardless of what the US does. That’s why I don’t think "better tactics" in 2003-04 would have altered the long term outcome much.

I’m not sure where India is in terms of corruption, but it’s such a bureaucratic state that I imagine corruption is rather high. Corruption doesn’t guarantee conflict or completely eliminate chances for economic success, but exacerbates existing problems and threatens any progress. Mix the post-Ottoman political culture with sectarian divisions, oil, and foreign involvement, and I think the obstacles are overwhelming. I don’t think it’s something we really can control at this point.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Jon Henke wrote:
Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Blah.
You still haven’t explained how bottom up political progress isn’t political progress. And to make your point, you need to.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: tomdperk.blogspot.com
You still haven’t explained how bottom up political progress isn’t political progress.
The problem is there hasn’t been significant ’bottom up’ progress in terms of political reconciliation between the ethnic groups, in halting corruption, reigning in the militias, etc.

It does seem that there are efforts now to work with Iran, and this kind of internationalization of the effort might bring groups together. It’s slow and late in coming, but there are signs of progress. Either that or partition are the best ways to try to achieve long term stability at this point.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You still haven’t explained how bottom up political progress isn’t political progress.
The point of the surge is to clear, hold, and retain local areas of Iraq for the purpose of creating an environment favorable for national political progress.

The surge has been successful in many local areas with respect to the clear and hold element of the strategy. This is a military tactic, and these areas are being cleared and held with military power. When a community is cleared and held, the local politics of the area will obviously be improved, but it is completely irrelevent to the overall strategy of political reconiliation and the creation of a stable STATE. The strategy is NOT, and never was, to create local political stability and hope that local stability bubbles up. Local political stability is a side effect (a pleasant one at that).

Here’s the strategy, and where we stand:


Clear - target areas have been cleared by US military forces
Hold - target areas are being held by US military forces
Retain - no areas have been transitioned to Iraqi forces to retain control.
National government political reconiliation - no progress


So as you can see, the US military is being successful, but that is only one aspect of three necessary components of success. The Iraqi retention transition has not happened successfully ANYWHERE, and no national political progress has been made.

We could make every community in Iraq completely safe politically, but that’s not going to make Iraq a stable state, and unless there is national political stability, the local areas are virtually assured of falling back into chaos when we leave.

So the SURGE is working, to the extent that we have control over it, meaning the military aspect, every other element required for a successful strategy has, so far, been unsuccessul, and if this continues beyond either our ability, or desire to continue to hold these area, will have to be considered a failure.


 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://

 
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