We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success. -- JOHN McCAIN
progress report time for David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker. But, alas, there has been no progress beyond a return to 2005 death-toll levels, which merely has given Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki an opportunity to try to exterminate his chief political rivals, so the general and the ambassador desperately need a carrot or a bogeyman to appease the few restive senators and representatives among the fawning congressfolk to whom they will report. Iraq
You may recall that the duo dangled a carrot when they last checked in back in September.
While they both equivocated about whether the Al-Maliki government was making progress (of course it wasn't), Petraeus was able to say that the number of troops in country might return to the 130,000 pre-Surge level by this summer.
Well, events on the ground, notably Al-Maliki's recalcitrance, and statements from President Bush have effectively swept that wee glimmer of hope off the table, so Petraeus and Crocker need a bogeyman.
Neocon lapdog Sarah Baxter, with an assist from Marie Colvin, provides a sneak peek in a Times of London story asserting that Iranian forces were directly involved in fighting against Al-Maliki's army and security police in the siege of
Baxter-Colvin offer no evidence for this claim and that is because it almost certainly is untrue.
What is true is that very inconveniently for the Bush administration,
doesn't have just one dog in this race – commonly cited as anti-American radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army by pro-war breast beaters – but has all of the dogs, including Al-Maliki's own Badr Brigade. Tehran
It was not for nothing that after the Al-Maliki offensive against the Mahdi gunmen in Basra came a cropper that the action moved to the Irani holy city of
where Brigadier General Qasim Sulaymani, leader of the Qods brigade of the Revolutionary Guard, brokered a truce. Qom
Expect Tehran to continue to give U.S. policymakers fits. Why now they're even saying that they back Al-Maliki's crackdown on Al-Sadr's milita.I don't expect this messy reality to be a problem for Petraeus and Crocker because just as John McCain keeps getting Shuittes and Sinnis confused, most congressfolk care little of the complicated relationship that Iran has with various Iraqi factions because all they have read is Iran For Idiots. This White House-produced tutorial portrays Tehran as the bogeyman for all bad things in the region, and it is that meme that will be regurgitated over and over at the progress report hearings.
Indeed, the White House needs a bogeyman more than ever since there has been a sharp uptick in violence, as well as U.S. military deaths, in March. And the fact of the matter is taking out Sadr's posse, if making progress was as simple as that, would be a gargantuan task that would making bringing Al Qaeda in Iraq to heel seem like child's play.
An inconveniently timed new assessment of U.S. policy in Iraq concludes that political progress is "so slow, halting and superficial" and political fragmentation "so pronounced" that the U.S. is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago.
This assessment was drawn up by some of the same folks who advised the Iraq Study Group, that late lamented exercise in futility, and like the study group the assessors are a half bubble off: Their thing is figuring out how the U.S. can get out of Iraq while the White House's thing is to keep it there.