CNN Arabic commissioned a public opinion survey on the al-Adhamiya wall and found that 76% of Iraqis reject "establishing isolation walls...to reduce sectarian violence". I would guess that David Kilcullen and other American strategists might respond that this is just the outcome of a successful al-Qaeda information operation. But even if that were true - which I doubt - it wouldn't change the political reality which now exists of widespread, intense hostility to the wall project. Blaming it on al-Qaeda or on the Arab media doesn't change that. Ignoring those attitudes or dismissing them as the product of political manipulation shows exactly a contemptuous disrespect for Iraqi opinion which infuriates and alienates them. It reminds me quite a lot of earlier periods of the American occupation, where American officials complained about the Arab media's "incitement" and "distortions" so much that they lost sight of the real problems on the ground and lost touch with real Iraqi attitudes - exactly the sort of mistake which the new team promised not to repeat.
Here's why this is so dangerous. American officials have repeatedly argued that the point of the "surge" and the Baghdad
security plan is to create a temporarily secure space which would allow
for political reconciliation. Petraeus and his supporters say (correctly) that there's no purely military solution - the strategy depends upon the military escalation producing political results. But the Adhamiya situation suggests that tactics are once again taking the place of strategy. That the wall apparently is going ahead for 'security' reasons despite its major negative repercussions in the political realm is a clear red flag. If political reconciliation is going nowhere, even deteriorating, then the strategy is failing on the terms laid out by its own architects. The controversy over the wall is obviously only small part of a much larger political crisis, but it's an alarming indicator of where things seem to be going.