Petraeus: Iraqi Leaders Not Making ‘Sufficient Progress’
General David Petraeus has stated the obvious:
Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday.
Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that “no one” in the U.S. and Iraqi governments “feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation,” or in the provision of basic public services.
Giving the Iraqis time to cobble together a functional unity government out of a broken sectarian mess was the rationale given for the Surge. There’s no indication that it’s happening or will suddenly happen any time soon. At the same time, there is very real progress, whether directly attributable to the Surge or not. Violence has decreased markedly. Infrastructure building is taking place. And civil society seems to be springing up organically at the village-tribal level.
The question remains, as it has for too long now, what to do about a bad situation. The answer seems unchanged: muddle through and hope for the best.
While John McCain is the staunchest advocate of that policy — although he wouldn’t describe it quite that way — it’s essentially the policy of Hillary Clinton and even Barack Obama once we get beyond rhetoric. It’s not much of a policy, frankly, but it’s the best we’ve got.
Despite the sense by some in the blogosphere that this is some sort of “gotcha” moment or admission against interests, it’s nothing more than a statement of what everyone knows. So, why bother to articulate it now?
My guess is that Pat Dollard is on to something: “Whenever Petraeus or other Higher Elements of forward command use the Washington Post like this, it’s not so much to inform you and me, it’s primarily to send a message to Maliki and company.”
Is Petraeus’ latest attempt to light a fire under their fourth points of contact likely to work? It hasn’t previously, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. But, again, the options are limited.