Brookings Writers Blind to the Empty Glass in Iraq?


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


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