Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of course news from Iraq of the recent decline in violence is wonderful, but is it lasting? David Ignatius cautions against premature celebration, stating that a Syrian analyst believes insurgents are simply laying low and regrouping. "This will be known as the era of deception," warns the analyst.

Offering further credence to this belief is Bush's suspiciously restrained rhetoric concerning this respite in violence. It's just not like him. You'd think he'd be crowing loudly, chest thrusted out, about this item of good news.

But then one has to wonder if Bush has intel supporting the analyst's contention that this period is just a regrouping phase of the war, that it's in fact too soon to proclaim victory or that the tide has finally turned in Iraq. At this point even Bush realizes it would be a huge mistake to appear overly optimistic only to see the violence re-erupt in full force. He'd look like a bigger fool than usual, with the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco repeating itself but worse. The end result would be a public 100% against the war, not "just" 70% against.

Speaking of Iraq, Kevin Drum reminds that like the phrase "It's the economy, stupid," the surge has always been about expected political progress in Iraq (stupid).
Political progress has always been the justification for the surge. When he announced it last January, President Bush explicitly said that the point of reducing violence in Baghdad was to give the Iraqi government "breathing space" to move ahead with political reconciliation. Political progress wasn't just a fringe benefit, it was the whole purpose of the surge: "If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises," he said, "it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people."

The reduction in violence in Iraq is great news. But it's not a "shift" to say that political reconciliation has always been the real goal of the surge. It has always been the real goal of the surge.
To sum up, the decline in violence is an excellent development, but 1) is it lasting or just a temporary reprieve, and 2) when will signs of political headway appear?

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