Friday, February 2, 2007

whither iran...and iraq

so, despite the fact that we haven't even come close to figuring out the first mess that we started, as josh marshall points out, the true question right now in american foreign policy is unfortunately whether or not we will attack iran. the administration can't even be bothered to stay focused on staying the course. hawks are out insinuating that iran was behind the recent attack on US forces in Karbala (although they are now apparently saying that it was actually a bunch of iraqi generals).

meanwhile, i'd say things were going from bad to worse in iraq, but i think we've past the point where such a statement is actually meaningful. it turns out that we're fighting an ever fractious group of enemies, and that, sadly unsurprisingly, the mahdi army has been using the iraqi defense forces as a way to equip and train their members. i think most people thought this was a problem, but not on this scale.

with the new national intelligence estimate on iraq released today, we find the intelligence community extremely pessimistic about the possibility of success for the president's surge plan, and for the future of iraq generally. basically, it finds that even if the surge plan could pacify baghdad to a significant degree, such that political dialogue could even be possible, it wouldn't make a difference. the political and sectarian gridlock is just too insurmountable. the sunnis can't adjust to their new role, the shiites can't make any concessions or accept any affronts to their majority status, and the kurds and their play for kirkuk could have drastic consequences (and lets not even mention the situation with turkey).

not only that, but the NIE explicitly rejects the possibility that iran can have any significant influence, given that iraq is already rending at the seams. i guess that might be the only positive thing about it. but then again, that probably won't even matter to the contingent pushing for confrontation.

Update: James Fallows has a gret piece about how while the choices in iraq are hard and necessitate losses and sacrifices, the choice concerning iran is straightforward and unambiguous: No war with Iran.

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