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Category: US in Iraq.archive
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Yesterday, David Ignatius, op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, offered an excellent piece, "A Road Map Home," in praise of the realism and diplomatic efforts of Ambassador Khalilzad and the Bush adminstration in working toward an endgame in Iraq.

Ignatius highlights:

"Reconciliation sounds fine in principle, but in practice it can be agonizing. I asked Khalilzad how he would answer members of Congress who are indignant that insurgents who opposed the U.S. occupation might be pardoned by the Iraqi government."

'"Ending a war is as difficult as fighting a war," Khalilzad went on. He noted that many conflicts in American history have ended with a general or partial amnesty -- from the Whiskey Rebellion to the Civil War to the U.S. Army's battle against insurgents in the Philippines. "To end a war, you must balance the requirements of reconciliation with the requirements of justice," he explained."

Ignatius asserts that the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a key victory in "[t]he political-military strategy embraced by Khalilzad and Casey over the past year [that] has combined aggressive military operations against die-hard insurgent groups with outreach to elements of the Sunni insurgency that (in theory) can be co-opted."

After the death of Zarqawi, the ambassador claims significant progress toward that end, reports Ignatius.

Ignatius in conclusion:

"Listening to America's ultra-realist ambassador, it's obvious that the buzzwords of the Washington political debate...don't have much relevance for what the generals and diplomats are trying to achieve. This messy war won't end with a victory parade but with a process that is messy itself -- slow, precarious, ambiguous. But the alternative is an open-ended U.S. military occupation of Iraq that nobody wants. As Khalilzad put it: "If you don't want reconciliation, it means you must fight on.'"

In addition to Ignatius's analysis, I will add some of my own thoughts:

Recently, the word "timetable" has claimed center stage in any discussion of Iraq. Does the President have a timetable? YES. Although the WH denies a timetable, any serious reading of the situation in Iraq and Washington leads to only one conclusion:

Iraq must be wrapped-up by January 20, 2009. The Bush braintrust is big on presidential history (especially that of Bush-41). They have taken great pains to avoid the missteps of the father, and they understand that unfinished business is risky business (for example: see Saddam and Somalia).

Prediction: President Bush will not leave Iraq in the lurch. The coming congressional campaign season will see quiet progress on the civil side of things, which will allow for moderate draw-downs of US troops.

Then, in the weeks and months after the election, President Bush and the USA will "get bloody." In a similar move to the assault on Fallujah in November of 2004 after the presidential election, I expect the President to make one final push for military supremacy in Iraq.

The President is never going to face another American election. This is an advantage for him. His legacy depends on victory in Iraq. All he needs to do is win. On the other hand, President Bush's moment is drawing to a close. After the Congressional election, the remainder of his term will be measured in months.

He must defeat the insurgency before they (the insurgents) come to view him as a lame duck. The USA may have won the war in Iraq with the re-election of President Bush in 2004. An insurgency is hard-pressed to wait-out an American president for four years. But if the USA does not deliver the knock-out punch early on in 2007, the insurgency will see a light at the end of the tunnel.

What goes without saying, of course, is that no future president, Republican or Democrat, will be invested in this war like George Bush. No successor to Bush will feel the press of history in the same way that the President copes with that oppressive sense of urgency and necessity every day of his administration.

08/06: Today in Iraq

Zarqawi killed; Iraqi government completed:

From the Washington Post:

"BAGHDAD, June 8 --Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the mastermind behind hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq, was killed early Wednesday by an air strike -north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday."

(The Post story in full.)

And, the Post also reports:

"BAGHDAD, June 8 -- The Iraqi parliament agreed upon candidates to lead the country's three top security ministries Thursday, ending a weeks-long stalemate among the country's largest political factions.

"The selection of an interior minister, a defense minister and a national security adviser gives Iraq a complete government for the first time since elections in December 2005 and it provides a key opportunity to promote political reconciliation between members of the country's Sunni Muslim minority and the Shiite-dominated government."

(The Post story in full.)

What Does it Mean?

The fight continues. Today's confluence of these two major storylines in Iraq reminds us that the resolution of the Iraq struggle is incredibly complex and multi-faceted.

The death of Zarqawi will not precipitate sanguine predictions that the end of the battle is at hand, as the deaths of Uday and Qusay and the capture of Saddam evinced. We are much more hardened by reality now than we were then.

The progress in the formation of civil government will not elicit buoyant claims that the opposition to a peaceful, pluralistic and self-determining Iraqi state is in its "last throes."

Rumsfeld had it right years ago when he said, "we are in for a long hard slog." Our mission in Iraq has been a long and exhausting journey, and we are clearly no where near the end of our campaign.

What today means is that we are relentless. It means that as long as George Bush is President of the United States terrorists are in mortal danger. As long as George Bush is President of the United States our nation is committed to supporting a transformative government in Iraq.

We cannot say for certain today that the projection of US power is an irresistible force, but we can say for certain that the person of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is not an immovable object.

May God Bless the United States and the people of Iraq.