Time to compare and contrast —
This, from Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria:
The Democrats are having the hardest time with the new reality. Every candidate is committed to “ending the war” and bringing our troops back home. The trouble is, the war has largely ended, and precisely because our troops are in the middle of it.
From 2003 to 2005 the war in Iraq was defined by an insurgency. After the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra in February 2006, it became largely a sectarian conflict. Now the dominant feature of the war is the proliferation of local ceasefires across the country. The real questions that candidates need to answer are these: How do they interpret this new reality? What would they do to maintain the new stability? What does all this mean for U.S. foreign and military policy in the next few years?
American forces in Iraq have done superbly but the violence has not ended because they won great military victories. Instead, the adversary —the Sunnis—switched sides. Instead of shooting Americans they are now allied with them. This has happened for many reasons—changes in U.S. policy, Al Qaeda’s brutality, Sunni defeats and war weariness. But it’s a fragile peace. Stephen Biddle, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has made several trips to Iraq to advise Gen. David Petraeus, says, “If you go south of Baghdad you will see Sunni units that are the most impressive Iraqi fighting forces in the country, never defeated, with their command structure, tight discipline, equipment and gear all intact. They have simply made a decision to stop fighting.”
With this, from today’s New York Times:
American-backed Sunni militias who have fought Sunni extremists to a standstill in some of Iraq’s bloodiest battlegrounds are being hit with a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks, threatening a fragile linchpin of the military’s strategy to pacify the nation.
American-backed Sunni Militias At least 100 predominantly Sunni militiamen, known as Awakening Council members or Concerned Local Citizens, have been killed in the past month, mostly around Baghdad and the provincial capital of Baquba, urban areas with mixed Sunni and Shiite populations, according to Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani. At least six of the victims were senior Awakening leaders, Iraqi officials said…
But the recent onslaught is jeopardizing that relative security and raising the prospect that the groups’ members might disperse, with many rejoining the insurgency, American officials said.
Not to mention giving everyone clarity:
Both Sunni and Shiite officials in Baghdad blame two government-linked Shiite paramilitary forces for some of the attacks: the Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization. Sunni officials charge that militia leaders are involved, while Shiite officials believe that the attackers are renegade members of the groups. Both militias have close ties to Iran and have been implicated in death-squad operations against Sunni Arabs, although the Mahdi militia’s leaders have publicly told their members to abide by a cease-fire.
Goody. And the Mahdi cease-fire will continue how long now? And then what? So much for the “new reality, ” Fareed Zakaria. To paraphrase the Who, it’s looking “same as the old reality” more and more every day. And you’re lookinhg more and more like Kevin Bacon’s character Chip, at the end of Animal House, crying out “Remain calm. All is well!”