Monday, July 30, 2007

The Opinionator: A blog at the NY Times by Tobin Harshaw & Chris Suellentrop

Time political columnist Joe Klein isn’t persuaded by the optimistic take in today’s New York Times Op-Ed by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, in which O’Hanlon and Pollack suggest that the surge has “the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.”

I agree with many, but not all, of the conclusions,” Klein writes, “but you really can’t write a piece about the [war] in Iraq and devote only two sentences to the political situation, which is disastrous and, as [Gen. David] Petraeus has said, will determine the success or failure of the overall effort.” He continues:

It could be argued that what the U.S. military is now accomplishing is clearing the field of foreigners — i.e. the Al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighters — so that the indigenous Sunnis and Shi’ites can go at each other in a full-blown civil war, complete with Srebrenica style massacres … I see absolutely no evidence that the majority Shi’ites are willing to concede anything to the minority Sunnis, and there are significant signs that Baghdad is being ethnically cleansed.

The progress made against Al Qaeda in Iraq “should not be extrapolated into anything resembling optimism,” Klein writes. The progress, “such as it is,” has been made in primarily Sunni areas, he adds. “But Iraq is primarily a Shi’ite country — and we’re not doing so well with those guys, especially the most prominent of them, Muqtada al-Sadr.”