Brookings Writers Blind to the Empty Glass in Iraq?

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I have just returned from a quick weekend trip to London which I will write about soon I hope, but am catching up with the drama of DC debates about Iraq, Iran, the Middle East in general.
One of the pieces that has attracted a lot of attention this weekend is an article written by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack in the New York Times suggesting that things are much better than we all think they are in Iraq.
O’Hanlan and Pollack saw what they saw and sensed morale among the US military to be what they felt it to be — but I have my own network back there, and I just don’t get the same read.
I also feel compelled to remind readers of a 2004 Washington Post article that I thought was brave and smart about America’s deteriorated position in Iraq. The article was co-authored by former Deputy National Security advisor James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon and called for US withdrawal from Iraq.
I think that the foundation of this 2004 Steinberg/O’Hanlon piece remains true today — and I know Steinberg has not changed his views — whereas O’Hanlon has not only become an advocate of keeping American troops in Iraq but thinks things are going swimmingly on the military front.
I’m with Steinberg and just about every other long-time Iraq observer on this one.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

35 comments on “Brookings Writers Blind to the Empty Glass in Iraq?

  1. MP says:

    Sandy writes: “Yes, even the Israelis, who – in spite of an effort to stop the sale by the Lobby’s more radical partisans in Congress – fully support the arms package. That’s not just because they’re getting a 25-percent hike in the outrageous amount of aid they already suck out of the U.S. Treasury – the Israelis also have a strategic interest in splitting the Muslim world along sectarian lines.”
    Only if they assume that a “united” Arab world would then turn to wiping them out. Otherwise, there is no benefit to Israel (that I can see) of a “divided” and unstable Arab world. In any event, the Arab/Muslim world has ALWAYS been divided, at least in recent times. Look at Nasser’s failed pan-Arabism.

    Reply

  2. Sandy says:

    Funny (?) how Bush-Cheney’s foreign policy — including the latest multi-BILLION-dollar ARMS giveaway — does just the OPPOSITE of what it says it’s about. In line with neo-con WAR-WAR-WAR ideology, of couse (but war against US, you idiots!):
    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=11379
    President Bush talks about winning the “ideological struggle,” in Churchillian intonations, but the reality is that our actions make it all too easy for our real enemies – al-Qaeda and its allies – to garner support. This is one of al-Qaeda’s chief selling points: that the U.S. is the power behind the depredations of native elites, propping up the notoriously corrupt and cruel Saudi kleptocracy and its mini-clones clustered around the Gulf and stealing the Ummah’s oil wealth by selling at artificially low prices. The latest arms deal not only confirms what bin Laden has been saying – it also dramatizes Michael Scheuer’s key point about our self-defeating foreign policy:
    “As I complete this book, U.S., British, and other coalition forces are trying to govern apparently ungovernable postwar states in Afghanistan and Iraq, while simultaneously fighting growing Islamist insurgencies in each – a state of affairs our leaders call victory. In conducting these activities, and the conventional military campaigns preceding them, U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.”
    Cui bono? Who benefits from this new turn? The answer: everyone but the American taxpayers and the nation as a whole. Yes, even the Israelis, who – in spite of an effort to stop the sale by the Lobby’s more radical partisans in Congress – fully support the arms package. That’s not just because they’re getting a 25-percent hike in the outrageous amount of aid they already suck out of the U.S. Treasury – the Israelis also have a strategic interest in splitting the Muslim world along sectarian lines.
    The consequences of this new turn in American policy are not too hard to predict. The Bush administration is setting off a regional arms race that is practically forcing the Iranians to go the nuclear route. After all, the U.S. is not about to invade North Korea, and everyone knows the reason why. If a nuclear arsenal is what it takes to stave off the American wolf and its Sunni allies, then that is the course the Iranians will take. They tried to negotiate, remember, and were rebuffed – and the latest negotiations are likely to be sabotaged by Vice President Dick Cheney, just like last time.
    The antiwar movement is focused exclusively on Iraq, but that Rubicon was crossed fours years ago: now we approach the River Styx, the demarcation line between the world of the living and Hades, the land of the dead. As we make the approach, ghosts and demons weep and wail, warning us away – yet we keep on going, walking blindly ahead, until we’re standing at the edge of oblivion.
    It won’t take much to push us over – and it’s a long way down.

    Reply

  3. Sandy says:

    Right, POA. Ludicrous to keep trotting out these “experts” who have been WRONG about everything! For YEARS…and YEARS!
    It’s obvious DESPERATION talking. Maybe someone will believe this.
    Uh. Not any more!

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So much for Hanlon’s credibility….
    http://tinyurl.com/yok9mq

    Reply

  5. kotzabasis says:

    Well, well Steve you are with Steinberg “on this one”, but you might finish up, as well as all “other long-time Iraq observers” and all the gloom and doom contributors on your blog, with a lots of egg on your face.
    As I foreshadowed in an article of mine seven months ago, published on my blog Nemesis, the new strategy under General Petraeus might be by the end of the year the ANNUS MIRABILIS for Bush.

    Reply

  6. bob h says:

    Does O’Hanlon have DoD funding that he is trying to protect? Who is funding his long-term studies of Iraq?
    Petraeus will report lower US casualties in September, but as Juan Coles notes today, this will reflect nothing more than climactic factors-the guerrillas always cool it in the Summer heat.

    Reply

  7. aileench says:

    While the U.S. government and media keep focusing on defense policies, campaign advertisement and the war in Iraq, 1.2 billion people in the world continue surviving on less than $1 dollar a day. I would like to see our current “president” and the political leaders behind him, support more international problems that affect our place in this world, such as global poverty. We should not forget the commitment made towards the U.N. Millennium Goals (a pact of ending extreme world hunger by the year 2025) in 2000. While the U.S. government and media keep focusing on defense policies and the war in Iraq, 1.2 billion people in the world continue surviving on less than $1 dollar a day. According to The Borgen Project, an annual $19 billion dollars is needed to eliminate half of the extreme poverty affecting the world by the year 2015. To my sense, it is almost unacceptable to have spent so far more than $340 billion in Iraq only, when we have more than war immunities to change the world and eliminate poverty.

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  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Just for the record I got error messages too. And my reply never got posted. I’m being blocked.”
    Steve doesn’t “block” posters, or I’d be long gone. Its a glitch. Odds are, your post contains links, and his spam filter blocked it. Try using just one, or at mosat, two links in your post.

    Reply

  9. MQuinnan says:

    Just for the record I got error messages too. And my reply never got posted. I’m being blocked.
    Another website bites the dust of truth

    Reply

  10. Marky says:

    When you get one of those error messages, hit preview at least twice before trying to post again. Almost invariably, you will see that your comment is up already.

    Reply

  11. sdemetri says:

    And here’s Greg Sargent’s query as to why O’Hanlon’s assessment is different from Brooking’s own Iraq Index which paints a less rosy picture:
    http://tinyurl.com/3cvl3w

    Reply

  12. sdemetri says:

    Excellent review by Glen Greenwald of O’Hanlon’s shifting views on Iraq:
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/07/30/brookings/index.html

    Reply

  13. MP says:

    Posted by Carroll at July 31, 2007 02:06 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Excellent article, Carroll. Thank you.

    Reply

  14. jgh says:

    I do not think all is lost in Iraq. Very little of its future is dependant us. There are probably a handful of leaders on the Sunni and Shia sides who, if they wanted to, could come to agreement on the future of Iraq and pull the country together peacefully. A country does not need a well trained army or national police if there is underlying peace.The Shia and Sunni live together in relative peace in many countries, they do not need to like one another to live in peace. The current problem in Iraq is the waring parties think they have more to gain by force. This could change in an instant or in decades. What will do or say will have no impact.

    Reply

  15. Carroll says:

    This could also be entitled a warning to America.
    If you can find a candidate who doesn’t pledge alleigence to Israel and won’t rely on AIPAC and the same fanatic zionist we have now in our government for Israel-Palestine policy..vote for him. As evidenced by the 25% increase in aid to Israel that was just sealed this status quo of never ending conflict and occupation and constant financial and reputation drain on the US will go on and on. Nothing about our whole ME policy, not Iraq or Iran or Isr-Pal will change until we purge the twin neo mentalities in US government that are driving this ME nightmare.
    A Warning to Tony Blair
    by Uri Avnery
    Last week, James Wolfensohn gave a long interview to Ha’aretz. He poured out his heart and summed up, with amazing openness, his months as special envoy of the U.S., Russia, the EU, and the UN (the “Quartet”) in this country – the same job entrusted now to Tony Blair. The interview could have been entitled “A Warning to Tony.” Among other revelations, he disclosed that he was practically fired by the clique of neocons, whose ideological leader is Paul Wolfowitz.
    What Wolfensohn and Wolfowitz have in common is that both are Jews and have the same name: Son of Wolf, one in the German version and the other in the Russian one. Also, both are past chiefs of the World Bank.
    But that’s where the similarity ends. These two sons of the wolf are opposites in almost all respects. Wolfensohn is an attractive person, who radiates personal charm. Wolfowitz arouses almost automatic opposition. This was made clear when they served, successively, at the World Bank: Wolfensohn was very popular, Wolfowitz was hated. The term of the first was renewed, a rare accolade, the second was dumped at the earliest opportunity, ostensibly because of a corruption affair: he had arranged an astronomical salary for his girlfriend.
    Wolfensohn could be played by Peter Ustinov. He is a modern Renaissance man: successful businessman, generous philanthropist, former Olympic sportsman (fencing), and air force officer (Australia). In middle age he took up the cello (under the influence of Jacqueline du Pré). The role of Wolfowitz demands no more finesse than that of the average gunman in a Western.
    But beyond personal traits, there is a profound ideological chasm between them. To me, they personify the two opposite extremes of contemporary Jewish reality.
    Wolfensohn belongs to the humanist, universal, optimistic, world-embracing trend in Judaism, a man of peace and compromise, an heir to the wisdom of generations. Wolfowitz, at the other end, belongs to the fanatical Judaism that has grown up in the state of Israel and the communities connected with it, a man of overbearing arrogance, hatred, and intoxication of power. He is a radical nationalist, even if it is not quite clear whether it is American or Israeli nationalism, or if he even distinguishes between the two.
    Wolfowitz is a standard-bearer of the neocons, most of them Jews, who pushed the U.S. into the Iraqi morass, promote wars all over the Middle East, advise the Israeli prime minister not to give up anything, and are ready to fight to the last Israeli soldier.
    Wolfensohn arrived in this country some months before the “separation plan” of Ariel Sharon. He says now that the separation would have succeeded “if the withdrawal had been accompanied by the second part of the separation, which, according to my understanding, would have created an independent entity that would become a Palestinian state.” He believes (mistakenly, I think) that this was the intent of Sharon, whom, unlike his successor as prime minister, he respects.
    Wolfensohn envisioned a blooming Gaza Strip, flourishing economically, open in all directions, a model to the West Bank and a basis for the new state. To this purpose he raised $8 billion. Unlike other idealists, he invested several millions of his own money in the greenhouses left behind by the settlers, hoping to turn them into the basis of the Palestinian economy.
    He stood at Condoleezza Rice’s side during the signing ceremony for the document that was to prepare the way to a brilliant future: the agreement for the opening of the border crossings. The crossings between the Strip and Israel were to be again wide open. Israel undertook to fulfill at long last the obligation it took upon itself in the Oslo agreement (and has violated ever since): to open the vital passage between Gaza and the West Bank. On the border between the Strip and Egypt, a European unit was already taking control.
    And then the whole edifice collapsed. The passage between the Strip and the West Bank remained hermetically sealed. The other border crossings were closed more and more frequently. The products of the greenhouses (together with Wolfensohn’s investment) went down the drain. The frail economy of the Strip disintegrated altogether, most of the 1.4 million inhabitants descended into misery, with 50 percent and more unemployment. The inevitable result was the ascent of Hamas.
    Wolfensohn’s complaint stresses the immense importance of the border crossings. Their closure – ostensibly for security reasons – spelled death to the Gaza economy, and, by extension, to the hope for peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Before the Hamas victory, Wolfensohn saw with his own eyes the awful corruption that governed the crossings. Relations between Israelis and Palestinians there were openly based on bribery. The Palestinian products could not cross without payment being made to the people in control on both sides.
    Wolfensohn lays at least some of the responsibility for the ascent of Hamas on the Palestinian Authority – meaning Fatah – which was infected by the cancer of corruption. The victory of Hamas in the democratic elections both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip did not surprise him at all.
    What caused this idealistic person to resign?
    He puts the main blame on one person, who belongs to the clique of Wolfowitz: Elliott Abrams. Like Wolfowitz, Abrams is a Jew, a neocon, a radical Zionist beloved by the Israeli Right. He was appointed by President Bush as deputy adviser for national security, responsible for the Middle East. With this appointment, Wolfensohn says, “all the elements of the agreement achieved by Condoleezza Rice were destroyed.” The passages were closed, Hamas took over.
    Wolfensohn accuses Abrams openly of undermining him, in order to get him out. True, the Quartet is not under the authority of Abrams, but a person in this position cannot function without solid American support. Abrams pushed him out in cooperation with Ehud Olmert and Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s confidant, whose plans were menaced by Wolfensohn’s activity. It was Weisglass, it will be remembered, who promised to “put the Palestinian issue in formaldehyde.”
    In the eyes of Wolfensohn, both sides are to blame for the current situation, but he clearly blames Israel more, since it is the stronger and more active party. No doubt, Israel is very important for him. He had a lot of sympathy for it. (In World War I, his father was a soldier in the Jewish battalions that were set up by the British army and sent to Palestine.) He gave the interview to the Israeli paper in order to voice a severe warning: time is not working for us.
    The demographic clock is ticking. Today, Israel is surrounded by some 350 million Arabs. In another 15 years, it will be surrounded by 700 million. “I don’t see any argument that supports the idea the Israel’s situation will get better.”
    As an expert on the global economy, with a worldwide perspective, Wolfensohn could also point out that the importance of the U.S. in the world economy is gradually declining, with new giants like China and India rising.
    We, the Israelis, like to think that we are the center of the world. Wolfensohn, a person with a worldwide outreach, sticks a pin into this egocentric balloon. Already now, he says, only the West considers the Israeli-Palestinian issue so important. Most of the world is indifferent. “I have visited more than 140 countries: you are not such a big deal there.”
    Even this limited interest will also evaporate. Wolfensohn rubs salt into the wound: “A moment will come when the Israelis and the Palestinians will be compelled to understand that they are a secondary performance. … The Israelis and the Palestinians must get rid of the idea that they are a Broadway performance. They are only a play in the Village. Off-off-off-off-off Broadway.” Knowing that this is the worst one can tell an Israeli, he adds: “I hope that I am not getting into trouble by saying this, but, what the hell, that’s what I believe, and I am already 73 years old.”
    I do believe him – and I, what the hell, am already 83.
    The metaphor from the world of theater looks to me even more apt than Wolfensohn himself imagines.
    What is happening now to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mostly theater, and not the best in town.
    The actors drink from empty glasses, recite texts that nobody believes, put on false smiles, and embrace heartily while loathing each other.
    The best scene so far was the Gaza “separation.” Contrary to Wolfensohn’s belief, it was merely a performance, melodrama at its best, directed by Sharon and the chiefs of the settlers, the army, and the police. Many tears, many embraces, many sham battles. This week the performance was again in the media, with a huge propaganda machine trying to show how immense was the pain, how the poor evacuees have remained without villas, how many more billions will still be needed. The intended conclusion: it is impossible to dismantle the settlements in the West Bank.
    The new actor on the stage, Tony Blair, is exuding charm and joviality, embracing and kissing. We, the audience, know that his lot will be exactly like that of his predecessor. Like him, he is the “special envoy of the Quartet.” His terms of reference are exactly the same as those of Wolfensohn before him: much of nothing. He is supposed to help the Palestinians to build “democratic institutions,” after the U.S. and Israel have systematically destroyed the democratic institutions that were set up after the last Palestinian elections.
    He has embraced Olmert, kissed Tzipi Livni, and smiled at Ehud Barak, and we know that all three of them will do their utmost to disrupt his mission before he reaches a position that would enable him to realize his real dream: to conduct peace negotiations, as he successfully did in Northern Ireland.
    All that is happening now is theater. Olmert pretends that he really wants to “save Abu Mazen,” while doing the opposite. At Bush’s request, he allowed the transfer of a thousand rifles, with a lot of fanfare, from Jordan to Abbas, so he can fight Hamas – understanding full well that to an ordinary Palestinian this will look like collaboration with the occupier against the resistance. He enlarges the settlements, keeps the “illegal outposts,” and closes his eyes while the army is helping the settlers to put up more outposts. That is a foolproof recipe for a Hamas takeover in the West Bank, too.
    Everybody knows that there is only one way to strengthen Abu Mazen: immediately to start rapid and practical negotiations for the establishment of the state of Palestine in all the occupied territories, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Not more discussions about abstract ideas, as proposed by Olmert, not another plan (No. 1001), not a “peace process” that will lead to “new political horizons,” and certainly not another hollow fantasy of that grand master of sanctimonious hypocrisy, President Shimon Peres.
    The next scene of the play, for which all the actors are now learning their lines, is the “international meeting” this autumn, according to the screenplay by President Bush. Condoleezza will chair, and it is doubtful whether Tony, the new actor, will be allowed to take part. The playwrights are still deliberating.
    If all the world is a stage, as Shakespeare wrote, and all the men and women merely players who have their exits and their entrances, that is true even more for Israel and Palestine. Sharon exited and Olmert entered, Wolfensohn exited and Blair entered, and everything is, as Shakespeare wrote in another play, “words, words, words.”
    Wolfensohn can view the next parts of the play with philosophical detachment. We, who are involved, cannot afford that, because our comedy is really a tragedy.

    Reply

  16. David T says:

    sorry for the multiple postings. I kept getting error messages which indicated that it had not gone through. Again, many many apologies.

    Reply

  17. David T says:

    Thanks Steve for providing the link to this piece.
    I’m sympathetic with you and your readership re: your views on the situation in Iraq. I have little use for the current administration or for their dishonesty on this war and so many other things.
    However, I’m heartened by the New York Times piece and am at a loss as to why the two authors, who have been very critical of this administration (whatever their positions regarding the invasion or military dealings with Iraq) and its Iraqi venture. I don’t know why they would wish to suggest things are looking peachy if that’s not what they see. As O’Hanlon is a leading military expert (as liberal as such a field might allow :)) so I would find his insights compelling. We will be getting out of Iraq soon and whoever thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. However I think its incumbent on us to not call those who see things differently than us (and are not perpetual spinners) names or suggest they are “blind.” I’m hoping they are right though its hard to accept the title of their piece (which is generally written by the editor rather than the authors of the piece as you no doubt know). Maybe General P. really has had a significant enough positive influence to make a difference (as hard as I and everyone else finds it to believe at this late date).
    Just hoping (and yes, perhaps somewhat deluding myself) since I am much less interested in vilifying supporters of the war, those who have administered it, or even those who originally or have come around to opposing it than to seeing a better future for the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds of Iraq and their neighbors in the region.

    Reply

  18. David T says:

    Thanks Steve for providing the link to this piece.
    I’m sympathetic with you and your readership re: your views on the situation in Iraq. I have little use for the current administration or for their dishonesty on this war and so many other things.
    However, I’m heartened by the New York Times piece and am at a loss as to why the two authors, who have been very critical of this administration (whatever their positions regarding the invasion or military dealings with Iraq) and its Iraqi venture. I don’t know why they would wish to suggest things are looking peachy if that’s not what they see. As one of the two Brookings guys is a leading military expert (as liberal as such a field might allow :)) so I would find his insights compelling. We will be getting out of Iraq soon and whoever thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. However I think its incumbent on us to not call those who see things differently than us (and are not perpetual spinners) names or suggest they are “blind.” I’m hoping they are right though its hard to accept the title of their piece (which is generally written by the editor rather than the authors of the piece as you no doubt know). Maybe General P. really has had a significant enough positive influence to make a difference (as hard as I and everyone else finds it to believe at this late date).
    Just hoping (and yes, perhaps somewhat deluding myself) since I am much less interested in vilifying supporters of the war, those who have administered it, or even those who originally or have come around to opposing it than to seeing a better future for the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds of Iraq and their neighbors in the region.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Britain will take troops out of Iraq regardless of US, says PM
    By Andrew Grice, Political Editor at Camp David
    Published: 31 July 2007
    Gordon Brown has paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by telling George Bush he would not delay their exit in order to show unity with the United States.
    After four hours of one-to-one talks with the US President at his Camp David retreat, Mr Brown told a joint press conference he would make a Commons statement in October on the future of the 5,500 British troops in the Basra region.
    The Bush administration, under mounting domestic pressure to produce an exit strategy from Iraq, has been nervous that a full British withdrawal would add to the criticism. But Mr Brown made clear – and President Bush accepted – that Britain would go its own way, even if that gave the impression the two countries were diverging.
    Mr Brown’s willingness to pursue an independent British policy in Iraq will be seen as an important break with Tony Blair. Mr Brown said the two leaders had had “full and frank discussions” – diplomatic code for some disagreements.
    (snip……)
    Revealingly, Mr Brown did not return the personal compliments, instead focusing on the historic links between the two countries and predicting they would get even stronger. This reflected his desire for a more business-like relationship with the President, instead of the strong personal bond forged by Mr Blair.
    Deliberately avoiding the phrase “war on terror,” Mr Brown said: “Terrorism is not a cause but a crime – a crime against humanity.” In contrast, the President spoke of “this war against extremists and radicals”.
    However, President Bush acknowledged that a British withdrawal could take place while the US remained in Iraq because, he said, decisions would be “results-orientated”. He said America could be there for “a long time”. He added that America’s next moves would be decided after a report in September by General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, on the “surge” of US troops in the Baghdad region.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Here is the difference between a grownup and a spoiled mamma’s boy ner’ do well who treats the world’s problems as if they revolve around him and his floppish cheerleader frat boy “feelings”.
    Bush on Brown
    * “I would describe Gordon Brown as a principled man who really wants to get something done.”
    * “Not a dour Scot …not an awkward Scot…a humorous Scot.”
    * “He’s got a strong commitment to helping people realize the blessing of education. I thank you very much for that vision.”
    * “He’s a glass half full man.”
    * [Referring to the death of Brown’s 10 day old baby in 2002]
    “He’s a man who’s suffered unspeakable tragedy – it’s strengthened his soul.
    I was impressed.”
    Brown on Bush
    * “We have had full and frank discussions. We have had the capacity and ability to meet yesterday for two hours to discuss person-to-person some of the great issues of our time.”

    Reply

  20. MP says:

    To be fair to O’Hanlon, Steve, I saw him on Hardball last night, and he explicitly said that he wasn’t saying that things were going “swimmingly,” but better militarily. I didn’t read the article, so maybe he gave a stronger impression there, but on air, that’s what he said.

    Reply

  21. Matthew says:

    My goodness, would those Iraqis quit pretending they don’t have electricity, running water, or enough food. It’s starting to make us look bad.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    Reading some of O’Hanlon’s past papers on Iraq, he was never against the invasion, he was only critical of the post invasion lack of planning.
    So perhaps he is validating “himself” by seeing a new “plan” that he calls as working.
    Beside it depends on who you talk to in Iraq what you see…did they also talk to opposite side of the fence and then compare the two? I doubt it.
    This also contridicts what I read this month, I believe at Juan Cole’s about the basic services to Iraqis…there are not getting the vastly improved elec. service this claims, elec. still is available only to very small areas and segments of the total population. Can you call that a improvement worthy of note after 4 years?
    Anyway I still don’t believe(feel) any of it matters…Iraqis are waiting us out, the Iraq gov is waiting us out, the insurgents on all sides are waiting us out…the US will not have a US friendly installed regime in Iraq that won’t be overthrown…ever.
    As far as I can see the only way to have that “stability in the region” the US says it is after is to make friends with Iran and try to bring Iran and Saudi together on some agreement with Iraq.
    East is East and West and West and never the twain shall meet. Too much history for old imperialism to work again IMHO.

    Reply

  23. hazmaq says:

    To have us believe 31,000 extra troops could suddenly calm 4 of the largest and “most worrisome” key provinces housing over 11,000,000 extremely angry Iraqi’s, more than one third the population of all Iraq, is beyond belief and a blow the the remaining credibility of Brookings. Especially to Mr O’Hanlon.
    ” ….If anything, the media typically under report just how violent Iraq is now.”
    Said Michael O’ Hanlon just last year, in an Autumn 2006 report titled:
    “Is the Media Being Fair in Iraq”.
    http://www.twq.com/06autumn/docs/06autumn_ohanlon.pdf
    And then there’s Kenny boy…Ken Pollack.
    The old “WMD” expert who now thinks he’s the new expert not only on Persia as a whole but now on Iran, too.
    Oh really?
    A pretty interesting feat since he neither speaks the language or set foot in Iran.
    What men like Mr. Pollack can/will never admit, is that he/they are the epitome of the arrogant lustful all knowing white hard-liners here in America, responsible for breeding the very hatred they now wage war against.
    “..”The greatest advantage of an invasion [of Iraq] is the near certainty of its outcome… if the United States were to launch a full-scale war against Iraq, we can have high confidence in victory…”
    http://www.robert-fisk.com/articles166.htm
    But this next phrase, pulled out of his…’expertise’, really says it all:
    “…removing Saddam “would sever the ‘linkage’ between the Iraq issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict”. In the long-term, “it would remove an important source of anti-Americanism” and produce a positive outcome …our best course of action”.

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    delusional. media coverage on iraq, which one could say is a direct result of a delusional administration.. it is a lousy excuse for it though.

    Reply

  25. David T says:

    Thanks Steve for providing the link to this piece.
    I’m sympathetic with you and your readership re: your views on the situation in Iraq. I have little use for the current administration or for their dishonesty on this war and so many other things.
    However, I’m heartened by the New York Times piece and am at a loss as to why the two authors, who have been very critical of this administration (whatever their positions regarding the invasion or military dealings with Iraq) and its Iraqi venture. I don’t know why they would wish to suggest things are looking peachy if that’s not what they see. As one of the two Brookings guys is a leading military expert (as liberal as such a field might allow :)) so I would find his insights compelling. We will be getting out of Iraq soon and whoever thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. However I think its incumbent on us to not call those who see things differently than us (and are not perpetual spinners) names or suggest they are “blind.” I’m hoping they are right though its hard to accept the title of their piece (which is generally written by the editor rather than the authors of the piece as you no doubt know). Maybe General P. really has had a significant enough positive influence to make a difference (as hard as I and everyone else finds it to believe at this late date).
    Just hoping (and yes, perhaps somewhat deluding myself) since I am much less interested in vilifying supporters of the war, those who have administered it, or even those who originally or have come around to opposing it than to seeing a better future for the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds of Iraq and their neighbors in the region.

    Reply

  26. David T says:

    Thanks Steve for providing the link to this piece.
    I’m sympathetic with you and your readership re: your views on the situation in Iraq. I have little use for the current administration or for their dishonesty on this war and so many other things.
    However, I’m heartened by the New York Times piece and am at a loss as to why the two authors, who have been very critical of this administration (whatever their positions regarding the invasion or military dealings with Iraq) and its Iraqi venture. I don’t know why they would wish to suggest things are looking peachy if that’s not what they see. Mr. O’Hanlon particularly is a military expert so I would find his insights compelling. We will be getting out of Iraq soon and whoever thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. However I think its incumbent on us to not call those who see things differently than us (and are not perpetual spinners) names or suggest they are “blind.” I’m hoping they are right though its hard to accept the title of their piece (which is generally written by the editor rather than the authors of the piece as you no doubt know). Maybe General Petraeus really has had a significant enough positive influence to make a difference (as hard as I and everyone else finds it to believe at this late date).
    Just hoping (and yes, perhaps somewhat deluding myself) since I am much less interested in vilifying supporters of the war, those who have administered it, or even those who originally or have come around to opposing it than to seeing a better future for the Shia, Sunnis, and Kurds of Iraq and their neighbors in the region.

    Reply

  27. David T says:

    Thanks Steve for providing the link to this piece.
    I’m sympathetic with you and your readership re: your views on the situation in Iraq. I have little use for the current administration or for their dishonesty on this war and so many other things.
    However, I’m heartened by the NYT piece and am at a loss as to why the two authors, who have been very critical of this administration (whatever their positions regarding the invasion or military dealings with Iraq) and its Iraqi venture. I don’t know why they would wish to suggest things are looking peachy if that’s not what they see. O’Hanlon particularly is a military expert so I would find his insights compelling. We will be getting out of Iraq soon and whoever thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. However I think its incumbent on us to not call those who see things differently than us (and are not perpetual spinners) names or suggest they are “blind.” I’m hoping they are right though its hard to accept the title of their piece (which is generally written by the editor rather than the authors of the piece as you no doubt know). Maybe Petraeus really has had a significant enough positive influence to make a difference (as hard as I and everyone else finds it to believe at this late date).
    Just hoping (and yes, perhaps somewhat deluding myself) since I am much less interested in vilifying supporters of the war, those who have administered it, or even those who originally or have come around to opposing it than to seeing a better future for the Shia, Sunnis, and Kurds of Iraq and their neighbors in the region.

    Reply

  28. Cracker Copeland says:

    Brookings has jumped on the old war-wagon and isn’t it about time? Embrace the war machine. Embrace the “long war.” Champion senseless death. Herald slaughter and ethnic cleansing. Proclaim the death of diplomacy and sing songs of joyous celebration…ignorance has taken a final rooting in American thought. Fear is king! Stupidity is logic! All Hail Our Conquering Lord and Master…the Imperial George W. Bush.
    However at some point, America will run out of money and children to waste on the Bush insanity.

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The “liberal” spin on this is as much bullshit as the rosy Iraq picture is. The right wing talk radio wackos like Hannity were all over this story yesterday. Just another small part of a large con.

    Reply

  30. Luigi Delgado says:

    Please get on the McNeil Report along with Juan Cole to debunk this bull s****.
    I read your blog daily…Thank you!
    I’m also very disappointed by the Brookings Institute.
    Best–

    Reply

  31. John Bolton says:

    These guys (especially Pollack) have been wrong about many things. I think they are genuinely
    scared that nation-building will be so discredited they can no longer ape the neo-con argument: that democratization everywhere is a good idea, but that Bush is the one to blame for the Iraq disaster. In other words, there is a political agenda here.
    Also, they mention (but gloss over) that the Iraqis are holding nothing. And the US doesn’t have enough troops to both gain and hold across
    the country. Thats the only reality. Its they who are being surreal, flouting the obvious will of the american people.

    Reply

  32. Dirk says:

    It’s funny how the Brookings Institute is described as liberal. I think when they outsourced their foreign policy to the Saban Institute, of which O’Hanlon and Pollack are part, is when Brooking’s views descended into a sort of neo-con lite idiocy.
    Both were big cheer leaders for going into Iraq; indeed Pollack was voted as one of the biggest liberal hawks that caused the Left(or at least part of it) to endorse going into Iraq. The other two were Friedman and Powell(Huh?).

    Reply

  33. Marcia says:

    Every time there is a new enthousiatic article touting the glowing future of our imperial presence in the ME or a bubbly overflow from the Lindsay Grahams of the endlessly repetitive Sunday morning TV snoozers the same question rolls around like apples and oranges on a slot machine – Who has the administration been listening in on? Who? One cannot help but wonder.
    Krauthammer, Brooks etc. are die-hards attached to the “agenda” and its great “thinkers” with
    super-glue that admits no new creases on the
    brain..but the others…a brain, a conviction?
    Dignity evidently is a thing of the past but have they no sense of ridicule?

    Reply

  34. Art Rantarian says:

    One time we had arms inspectors in Iraq we didn’t believe and look where that led.

    Reply

  35. ... says:

    maybe it is part of the new propaganda campaign the admin is said they were going to push to get the message out that things are going peachy in iraq and those flowers the american troops will be greeted with just took a bit longer to grow.. what a con job a gov’t that pays for propaganda is.

    Reply

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