Brookings’ Opinion on the State of Iraq

Large_michaleohanlonfoxcnn_320_240This crew of Brookings people is keeping track of the war in Iraq.  Here they are discussing the combat situation itself.  Clearly, the siruation has improved.

We all know that this has little to do with whether or not a political compromise among the factions sects and communities will emerge, but even in that area there have been signs of improvement of late.

None of this helps McCain with his belligerent tone about Iraq.

The improved results in the war are largely the result of improved coalition recognition of the fragmented nature of the insurgent forces and a developed willingness to make use of that fragmentation.   (There will be moaning about the "Insincerity" of conversions, etc.)

McCain and the rest of his "crew" continue to insist or imply (this varies) that Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) is the enemy, the only enemy, and that a US withdrawal will lead to AQI control of Iraq.

I suppose that the cognitive dissonance involved in the contrast between the actual situation and his rhetorical position has not been noticed as yet.

For the record, AQI numbers a couple of thousand people.  They are Sunni takfiri fighters who are completely unacceptable to the heavily armed Shia masses as well as to the great majority of Sunnis.  The Sunnis discovered that they did not wish to live under takfiri rule and that is what caused the "Awakening," not our bloody money!

In other words there is NO CHANCE that AQI is going to "take over" Iraq. 

Does McCain know this or not?  pl

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20 Responses to Brookings’ Opinion on the State of Iraq

  1. frank durkee says:

    How could he not know it? Can he allow something which counters his ‘narative’ for the election to become part of the public perception? I doubt it. So he will have to attack it to save his narrative, and run for the Whitehouse. To quote Jay Gould on another matter [money shenanigans] “nothing lost save honor”.

  2. Ronald says:

    “In other words there is NO CHANCE that AQI is going to “take over” Iraq.”
    SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH! Didn’t you get the memo?
    Seriously, for former supporters of the war to acknowledge this obvious fact would be to acknowledge the preposterousness of the whole endeavor. McCain’s “experience” advantage evaporates when you realize that his experience led him to think a war in Mesopotamia was just the thing US interests in the world needed.
    The inflation of the AQI threat is a keystone in the facade of the GOP national security argument. Upton Sinclair said that it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends upon not understanding it. The same applies for politicians.

  3. jonst says:

    Which is worse? That he knows AQI has no chance to ‘take over’Iraq (and indeed, some may say if they continue to rub some people the wrong way; no chance to stay alive in Iraq) and he is lying about for his own reasons? Or he really believes what he said about AQI; which would reveal, after all his trips, all his hearings, all his briefings, he is, not only, utterly clueless, but utterly incapable of learning anything?

  4. Mad Dogs says:

    Perhaps AQ headquarters has waved “Buh-bye” to AQI where their chances always were “slim” and “none” and which have now declined to “none” and “that’s a good joke”.
    And instead have turned their feverish and deluded thinking into the taking of Pakistan.
    Taking a majority Shia nation like Iraq was every bit the stretch even the less insane of AQ admitted, but it was all for a “good cause”, “great training”, “showing our leadership”, etc. that passes for “strategic thinking” in AQ-worshiping circles.
    “Denial” is not just a terminal delusion fit for a King like our George, but fits quite nicely, kind of you to ask, with the apostasy that is AQ.
    So in keeping with the definition that delusion is “false belief strongly held”, AQ now believes they can’t but succeed in Pakistan now that they’ve “corrected” their targeting.
    After all, Pakistan is majority Sunni (just like AQ), has an unpopular dictator as ruler, they’ve got real Nuclear Weapons (just like AQ has always dreamed of), and “what the heck, we were just hangin’ out here anyways”.
    And just because these deranged folks are similarly delusional with regard to Pakistan as they were with Iraq, does not lessen the damage to be done, the blood to be spilled, the lives to be lost, in attempting the attainment of the Osama’s bastardization of The Caliphate.

  5. Charles I says:

    Let us recall McCain’s take on things after his bucolic, armour-clad stroll through a locked-down Baghdad market a while back. Either he’s as well protected from reality at home as abroad, or he dissembles for whatever purpose, knowingly or not.
    That we even have this discussion after 7 years of the merciless assault on civilization that is Al Qaeda – “How could he not know it? . . Seriously, for former supporters of the war to acknowledge this obvious fact would be to acknowledge the preposterousness of the whole endeavor.” – has me wondering.
    Wondering, from here in Toronto, exactly where are the lines in America between 9/11+GWOT diplomacy, dissembling, delusion and duplicity? Where does the Candidate stand in relation to these lines? How does one compute the relative weight of each in the Candidate’s amalgum, and thus properly ascribe behaviour to motive? Especially given the dismal ignorance resolutely manifested in opinion polling about various and sundry security myths, er, matters.
    We’re tremendously conservative in our conceits. Why should the candidates, once actually infected, or merely kool-aided along, be any less so. Why the semantic difficulties alone in marketing sober second thought as opposed to the much more trenchant smear of the flip-flop are daunting. Its a battlefield out there. Isn’t it? Right to the bitter end, once the contest is joined?

  6. meletius says:

    It seems impossible to “know” what warmongering neo-cons like McCain “really” think.
    We know he was among the first to support the invasion and did all he could to bring it to pass. We know he tenaciously wants to keep large numbers of troops there indefinitely. What we need to determine is what his possible “reason” could be.
    He now claims (like Bush) that AQI will “take over” Iraq should we drop troop levels, which the esteemed and informed proprietor of this blog demonstrates to be simple nonsense. I believe Col. Lang, not McCain.
    McCain then enthuses that we can’t leave because there will be some sort of “bloodbath” like occurred after we “surrendered” in Vietnam. The two siuations seem so completely incomparable, that I think this conclusion is equal nonsense.
    So, why the 100 Years War theme? AQI is a deadly annoyance, not a North Vietnamese army. No other country will “invade” Iraq as we draw down our forces (except perhaps our ally Turkey), and both “sides” have subtantial patrons in the region.
    What other reason can McCain have for desiring such a permanent presence other than US Oil’s access (via military garrison) to the world’s second largest oil reserves?–the “sea of oil” to use Wolfowitz’s apt phrase.
    Now we approach a rational geopolitical reason for such a costly strategic endeavor and tenaciously held “position”. McCain knows what he is doing—he just can’t make it plain to the Empire’s citizens, as Greenspan lamented and Abizaid acknowledged.

  7. Duncan Kinder says:

    As someone recently pointed out, whether Al Qaeda may take over Iraq is to some extent moot given how well they currently are doing in Waziristan.

  8. condfusedponderer says:

    McCain never was was and is not now and never will be a neo-con. I advise against the promiscuous use of the label.

    The inflation of the AQI threat is a keystone in the facade of the GOP national security argument.

    That is because nobody in the US yet dares to go into an election campaign saying that the US is an empire and that the US are perfectly are entitled to tell the Iraqis how to run their countries. That doesn’t men they don’t think the US can do that or should, but as for now to be sold the argument has to be into the corset of a ‘threat’ or ‘mission’. The necessity to do that is in in itself somewhat encouraging.
    You won’t find many honest imperialists in the US, except for folks like maybe Max Boot – and those folks only run for appointment, not for office.

  9. anna missed says:

    I suppose its no coincidence that Bushe’s tiny dancer Maliki and his council have put the nix on provincial elections scheduled for next fall. Given that our own civil war was initiated by an election (of rather lesser consequence), it does underline how Iraq is in a state of suspended animation and held in a temporary abeyance by all parties playing equally against the (U.S.) dealer. Especially since all parties also implicitly understand that a) they can’t make a credible unified run against superior U.S. military technology and that b) by standing down, a-la Sadr, or going anti-AQ is the best tactic for, de-justifying continued occupation and hastening a withdrawal. McCain, by this logic will soon demand provincial elections be held in Iraq for all the obvious wrong reasons of empowering all the anti-occupation forces that would come to power as a result.
    McCain is still a P.O.W. – if only metaphorically. And 4 more wars is all he has to sell.

  10. avedis says:

    Actually, I think that the answer to, “Does McCain know this or not? pl”
    Despite our esteemed host’s tendency to summarily dismiss explanations based on oil, securing of oil reserves and favorable contracts has been the one and only consistent theme expressed in pro-invasion/occupation rationalizations.
    The theme even pre-dates Bush’s selection as the leader of the enterprise.
    All of the WMD and neocon theories came later as well and are, obviously, poorly formed cynical excuses allowed to piggyback on the real objective as, I suppose, fodder for the masses.
    The oil angle has curiously never been prominate in main stream media discusions. However, the architects of the invasion/occupation have never been shy about discussing it internally. They have left plenty of blatant evidence lying around numerous “crime scenes”, like their PNAC gatherings.
    Just one of many such calling cards is discussed here:
    … “by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from? … While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies, even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress continues to be slow.” Dick Cheney, then Halliburton CEO, 1999

  11. We have a “quote of the day” feature on our network. Here’s what popped up today when I was logging on:
    Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.
    Walter Lippman
    He is yet another interesting character…
    Wikipedia Article on Lippman
    What is old becomes new again.

  12. arbogast says:

    I regret to say that this is all politics and has nothing whatever to do with reality.
    There is exactly one card in the Republicans’ hand: “terrorism”. That is the only stick they can beat the electorate with.
    The economy? Hush it up.
    Progress in the war? Well, with all respect, the war is costing over a billion dollars a day. That should represent one hell of a lot of progress. Like eradicating several diseases. Things like that.
    Nope. Terrorism is the only thing McCain has. So he has no choice at all except to talk about it all the time.

  13. And talking is what he’s doing. Have you seen his new ad comparing himself to Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt? He’s now a never-surrender war leader!
    He’s really going to run on this?!?

  14. kim says:

    not. thanks for asking.
    as noted above,mccain is still a pow. always will be. nothin’ metaphorical about it.

  15. EZSmirkzz says:

    Col., your emphatic statement that our “bloody” money has nothing to do with the turn around in the Awakening Councils points out the political aspect of our discourse on the subject. But I was wondering just how much influence you think the money does have on individuals of the CLCs. I ask this because to Americans this would be for many a decisive factor in their participation, but I’m not at all sure that the Iraqis, even under the present duress, are as materialistic as we.

  16. W. Patrick Lang says:

    People have to live.
    In my experience it is a rare thing to find people who can afford to pursue a course of action without financial support.
    Money is the “foundation” which makes action possible. pl

  17. J says:

    also ‘money’ IS the sinews of war. without which, war is not possible.

  18. Binh says:

    Of course he knows it. If he didn’t, he would be a complete idiot, and he (unlike the current President) strikes me as a reasonably intelligent guy.

  19. searp says:

    They like the money and the attention. For the tribal sheiks it kills 2 birds with 1 stone: they get more power through the ability to dole out money to their fighters, and they get AQI, an alternative power and a threat to them, off their backs.
    Without the $ and support, the sheiks were in trouble. In my mind it is hard to say whether the support or the $ are more important, but they are commingled anyway.

  20. Ryan says:

    I think that is a wonderful commercial for McCain. I only have one problem with it. It doesn’t do him full justice. I think this one is much better.

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