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October 27, 2007



We can all agree that there is no possible winning strategy anymore. But, at least in the Sunni areas, don't our current tactics seem to be leading toward a more strategically tolerable end? Last summer, al-Qaeda and its ilk looked to be emerging as a dominant force in significant areas of Sunni Iraq. Now they are undeniably weaker, and elements of the insurgency that do not necessarily pose a threat to our strategic interests are making an effort to fill a political vacuum in the Sunni arena that neither the Baghdad government nor any of its participants could ever have filled.

Sure, the Sunni side remains divided among insurgency factions and bickering tribes. But if Iraq seems headed towards Zuamma/Qabaday politics, doesn't it make sense to do everything we can to weaken those who pose a strategic threat (ISI) and strengthen those with whom we can buy influence (the Awakenings)?


I wrote once before that for progress to be made beyond the local level the U.S. would actually have to get more involved in Iraqi politics, not less. I guess that U.S. policymakers thought that the shadows of reconciliation in late August held more promise than they actually did, as Colonel-Senator Graham, fresh back from Iraq, publicly proclaimed in early September that he expected visible political progress in "weeks, not months."

That hasn't happened. Why the U.S. keeps dropping the strategy ball I do not know. The U.S., through its troops on the ground, has greater credibility among much of the populace than their own local policemen and politicians. Why don't we make the most of it?

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