Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The New New Iraq

The Bush Administration has criticized the Maliki government sharply, and now Maliki has sniped back calling them "discourteous" and saying Iraq could "find friends elsewhere."

I had wondered how the administration would sell a continuation of their Iraq policy in September, when a report to Congress is due. Back in the spring the NEW AND IMPROVED! factor had been the surge. Yes, we've been in Iraq for four years now, but never with shiny new General Petraeus! Never with a true counter-insurgency strategy! Never with this troop surge!

Well, the surge came and -- because of troop availability -- it will have to wane in the spring. The incremental increase in troops managed to cut down on violence in Baghdad, but country-wide both US and Iraqi deaths are up compared to corresponding months last year. With key Sunnis leaving the cabinet, the political situation has actually gone backwards. In a development unrelated to the surge, Sunnis in Al-Anbar have teamed with the U.S. to fight Al-Qaeda, but that's a double-edge sword... we may just be arming future combatants against the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.

So how can the administration sell a continuation? What's the new excuse to delay a reckoning? Where's the new NEW AND IMPROVED! factor?

Expect a new Prime Minister soon.

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