Sunday, August 19, 2007

Seeing Is Believing

Published: August 19, 2007


Is the surge in Iraq working? That is the question that Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will answer for us next month. I, alas, am not interested in their opinions.


It is not because I don’t hold both men in very high regard. I do. But I’m still not interested in their opinions. I’m only interested in yours. Yes, you — the person reading this column. You know more than you think.

You see, I have a simple view about both Arab-Israeli peace-making and Iraqi surge-making, and it goes like this: Any Arab-Israeli peace overture that requires a Middle East expert to explain to you is not worth considering. It’s going nowhere.

Either a peace overture is so obvious and grabs you in the gut — Anwar Sadat’s trip to Israel — or it’s going nowhere. That is why the Saudi-Arab League peace overture is going nowhere. No emotional content. It was basically faxed to the Israeli people, and people don’t give up land for peace in a deal that comes over the fax.

Ditto with Iraqi surges. If it takes a Middle East expert to explain to you why it is working, it’s not working. To be sure, it is good news if the number of Iraqis found dead in Baghdad each night is diminishing. Indeed, it is good news if casualties are down everywhere that U.S. troops have made their presence felt. But all that tells me is something that was obvious from the start of the war, which Donald Rumsfeld ignored: where you put in large numbers of U.S. troops you get security, and where you don’t you get insecurity.


There’s only one thing at this stage that would truly impress me, and it is this: proof that there is an Iraq, proof that there is a coalition of Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds who share our vision of a unified, multiparty, power-sharing, democratizing Iraq and who are willing to forge a social contract that will allow them to maintain such an Iraq — without U.S. troops.

Because if that is not the case, even if U.S. troops create more pockets of security via the surge, they will have no one to hand these pockets to who can maintain them without us. In other words, the only people who can prove that the surge is working are the Iraqis, and the way they prove that is by showing that violence is down in areas where there are no U.S. troops or where U.S. troops have come and gone.

Because many Americans no longer believe anything President Bush says about Iraq, he has outsourced the assessment of the surge to the firm of Petraeus & Crocker. But this puts them in an impossible position. I admire their efforts, and those of their soldiers, to try to salvage something decent in Iraq, especially when you see who we are losing to — Sunni suicide jihadists and Shiite militants, who murder fellow Muslims by the dozen and whose retrograde visions offer Iraqis only a future of tears. But we could never defeat them on our own. It takes a village, and right now too many of the Iraqi villagers won’t work together.

Most likely the Bush team will say the surge is a “partial” success and needs more time. But that is like your contractor telling you that your home is almost finished — the bricks are up, but there’s no cement. Thanks a lot.

The Democrats should not fight Petraeus & Crocker over their answer. They should redefine the question. They should say: “My fellow Americans, ask yourselves this: What will convey to you, in your gut — without anyone interpreting it — that the surge is working and worth sustaining?”

My answer: If I saw something with my own eyes that I hadn’t seen before — Iraq’s Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders stepping forward, declaring their willingness to work out their differences by a set deadline and publicly asking us to stay until they do. That’s the only thing worth giving more time to develop.

But it may just be too late. Had the surge happened in 2003, when it should have, it might have prevented the kindling of all of Iraq’s sectarian passions. But now that those fires have been set, trying to unify Iraq feels like doing carpentry on a burning house.

I’ve been thinking about Iraq’s multi-religious soccer team, which just won the Asian Cup. The team was assembled from Iraqis who play for other pro teams outside Iraq. In fact, it was reported that the Iraqi soccer team hadn’t played a home game in 17 years because of violence or U.N. sanctions. In short, it’s a real team with a virtual country. That’s what I fear the surge is trying to protect: a unified Iraq that exists only in the imagination and on foreign soccer fields.

Only Iraqis living in Iraq can prove otherwise. So far, I don’t see it.

Maureen Dowd is off today.

6 comments:

Lorraine said...

cheap wedding gowns
discount bridal gowns
China wedding dresses
discount designer wedding dresses
China wedding online store
plus size wedding dresses
cheap informal wedding dresses
junior bridesmaid dresses
cheap bridesmaid dresses
maternity bridesmaid dresses
discount flower girl gowns
cheap prom dresses
party dresses
evening dresses
mother of the bride dresses
special occasion dresses
cheap quinceanera dresses
hot red wedding dresses

Anonymous said...

Replica Handbags
Fake Handbags
Knockoff Handbags

Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags
Replica Gucci Handbags
Replica Chanel Handbags
Prada Handbags
Replica Fendi Handbags
Replica Dolce Gabbana Handbags
Replica Chloe Handbags
Replica Jimmy Choo Handbags
Replica Thomas Wylde Handbags
Replica MiuMiu Handbags

Replica Balenciaga Handbags
Replica Coach Handbags
Replica Lancel Handbags
Replica Hermes Handbags
Replica Marc Jacobs Handbags
Replica Anya Hindmarch Handbags
Replica YSL Handbags
Replica Mulberry Handbags
Replica Givenchy Handbags
Replica Valentino Handbags
Replica Versace Handbags
Replica Cartier Handbags
Replica Marni Handbags
Replica Bottega Veneta Handbags
Replica Loewe Handbags
Replica Kooba Handbags

Replica Bally Handbags
Replica Burberry Handbags
Replica Christian Dior Handbags
Replica Juicy Couture Handbags
Replica Ferragamo Handbags
Replica Celine Handbags

Anonymous said...

guest-house latin fifteen minutes
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]hotel price compare
[/url]frugal flights to america
deals on motor hotel
restaurant inn
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]cheap hotels and motels
[/url]tawdry repossessed houses
country hotels
lousy one modus vivendi = 'lifestyle'
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]hotel price bid
[/url]phillip island settlement
b&b hotels
cheapest flights to
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]search hotels by price
[/url]napa valley bed deals
via breakfast
aura booking
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]hotel le
[/url]cheap rings
holidays
hotels star
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]cheap nyc hotels
[/url]echuca accommodation
resorts
from economy

Anonymous said...

in toto completely traveller economy excellence y tickets
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]cheap 4 star hotels
[/url]aruba lodging deals
mid bonus hotels
korean air thriftiness genre
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]cheap deals on hotels
[/url]voucher housing
housing coalition
cut-price vegas bed rooms
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]hotel price match
[/url]airplane tickets
rom motor hotel
tourist house bishopric assembly
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]first world hotel price
[/url]make a trip b & b deals
joomla inn booking
component 8 box assistance
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]ginger hotel
[/url]hotels borough
the george pension shipston on stour
seat booking
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]hotels pet friendly
[/url]pensione
seedy b b
pension sale-priced deals

Anonymous said...

stingy caravanserai motel
price for hotels
cut-price ps3
matrix minute pension prices
extended deter bed
cheap hotels in niagara
tourist house repair to
patronize guest-house deals
pension and motel
booking a hotel
reservations hotels
low-cost york hotels
b & b hotels
comparing hotel prices
hotels the
rental apartments
mybooking
maldron hotel
hotels
conqueror safeguard facility
indian hotels
cheap cardiff hotels
top ten airlines
uk hotel
new conservation division

dfadf said...

Microsoft Office
Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Office 2010 key
Office 2010 download
Office 2010 Professional
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010