Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 24, 2007 / 10 Elul, 5767

The Iraqi convergence

By Charles Krauthammer


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | After months of surreality, the Iraq debate has quite abruptly acquired a relationship to reality. Following the Democratic victory last November, panicked Republican senators began rifling the thesaurus to find exactly the right phrase to express exactly the right nuance to establish exactly the right distance from the president's Iraq policy, while Murtha Democrats searched for exactly the right legislative ruse to force a retreat from Iraq without appearing to do so.


In the last month, however, as a consensus has emerged about realities in Iraq, a reasoned debate has begun. A number of fair-minded observers, both critics and supporters of the war, agree that the surge has yielded considerable military progress, while at the national political level the Maliki government remains a disaster.


The latest report from the battlefield is from Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a strong critic of the Iraq war. He returned saying essentially what we have heard from Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution and various liberal congressmen, the latest being Brian Baird (D-Wash.): Al-Qaeda has been seriously set back as Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar, Diyala and other provinces switched from the insurgency to our side.


As critics acknowledge military improvement, the administration is finally beginning to concede the political reality that the Maliki government is hopeless. Bush's own national security adviser had said as much in a leaked memo back in November. I and others have been arguing that for months. And when Levin returned and openly called for the Iraqi parliament to vote out the Maliki government, the president pointedly refused to contradict him.


This convergence about the actual situation in Baghdad will take some of the drama out the highly anticipated Petraeus moment next month. We know what the general and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are going to say when they testify before Congress because multiple sources have already told us what is happening on the ground.


There will, of course, be the Harry Reids and those on the far left who will deny inconvenient reality. Reid will continue to call the surge a failure, as he has since even before it began. And the left will continue to portray Gen. David Petraeus as an unscrupulous commander quite prepared to send his troops into a hopeless battle in order to advance his political ambitions (although exactly how that works is not clear).


But the serious voices will prevail. When the Democratic presidential front-runner concedes that the surge "is working" (albeit very late) against the insurgency, and when Petraeus himself concedes that the surge cannot continue indefinitely, making inevitable a drawdown of troops sometime in the middle of next year, the terms of the Iraq debate become narrow and the policy question simple: What do we do right now — continue the surge or cut it short and begin withdrawal?


Serious people like Levin argue that with a nonfunctional and sectarian Baghdad government, we can never achieve national reconciliation. Thus the current military successes will prove ephemeral.


The problem with this argument is that it confuses long term and short term. In the longer run, there must be a national unity government. But in the shorter term, our assumption that a national unity government is required to pacify the Sunni insurgency turned out to be false. The Sunnis have turned against al-Qaeda and are gradually switching sides in the absence of any oil, federalism or de-Baathification deal coming out of Baghdad.


In the interim, the surge is advancing our two immediate objectives in Iraq: (a) to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq and prevent the emergence of an al-Qaeda ministate, and (b) to pacify the Sunni insurgency, which began the post-liberation downward spiral of sectarian bloodshed, economic stagnation and aborted reconstruction.


Levin is right that we require a truly national government in Baghdad to obtain our ultimate objective of what O'Hanlon and Pollack call "sustainable stability." The administration had vainly hoped that the surge would provide a window for the Maliki government to reform and become that kind of government. It will not.


We should have given up on Nouri al-Maliki long ago and begun to work with other parties in the Iraqi parliament to bring down the government, yielding either a new coalition of less sectarian parties or, as Pollack has suggested, new elections.


The choice is difficult because replacing the Maliki government will take time and because there is no guarantee of ultimate political success. Nonetheless, continuing the surge while finally trying to change the central government is the most rational choice because the only available alternative is defeat — a defeat that is not at all inevitable and that would be both catastrophic and self-inflicted.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Charles Krauthammer's column by clicking by clicking here.

Archives

© 2006 WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles