Forget Iraqi Political Reconciliation
Update: I feel obligated to point out that I was wrong. Some commenters have correctly said that many of you knew the surge was a lie and doomed to fail from the outset. I on the other hand (for once) wanted to give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt based on what I originally saw from Robert Gates. Even though I qualified my support for the surge, I was wrong and many of you were correct from the start.
The original sales job done by this administration for the surge back in January is now inoperative. We were told by the administration that we would be surging while the Iraqis would be undertaking political reconciliation and achieving benchmarks during the remainder of 2007. According to today's Post, it isn't happening. Additional proof came from Petraeus himself this morning when he said things are more complex than imagined and our situation will get worse before it gets better. That’s if it gets better. Yet Joe Lieberman says today that we need to stay and fight Al Qaeda in the middle of a sectarian war, requiring our soldiers to fight everyone at the same time even without any political reconciliation.
U.S. military commanders say a key goal of the ongoing security offensive is to buy time for Iraq's leaders to reach political benchmarks that can unite its fractured coalition government and persuade insurgents to stop fighting.
But in pressuring the Iraqis to speed up, U.S. officials are encountering a variety of hurdles: The parliament is riven by personality and sect, and some politicians are abandoning Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government. There is deep mistrust of U.S. intentions, especially among Shiites who see American efforts to bring Sunnis into the political process as an attempt to weaken the Shiites' grip on power.
Many Iraqi politicians view the U.S. pressure as bullying that reminds them they are under occupation. And the security offensive, bolstered by additional U.S. forces, has failed to stop the violence that is widening the sectarian divide.
Ten weeks into the security plan, even as U.S. lawmakers propose timelines for a U.S. troop withdrawal, there has been little or no progress in achieving three key political benchmarks set by the Bush administration: new laws governing the sharing of Iraq's oil resources and allowing many former members of the banned Baath Party to return to their jobs, and amendments to Iraq's constitution. As divisions widen, a bitter, prolonged legislative struggle is hindering prospects for political reconciliation.
Yet we hear from McCain and the other GOP contenders, as well as the White House, that mistakes have been made, but now that we have a “new” plan, we need to give it time to work.
We’ve read this book before and we know how it ends. There is no reason to give this administration, the GOP, or Joe Lieberman another chance to ask for more time in Iraq once again. A president with a 28% approval rating gets no do-overs, and Congress is giving signs that there is a renewed bipartisan interest in partitioning the country.