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    10 August 2007

    Is the military track working against the political track in Iraq?

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    Thats the feeling I got from reading Dr. Lind's piece Tuesday at the website Defense and the National Interest entitled "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back".

    Marc Lynch expands on this today and muses:
    When the Crocker-Petraeus report comes in, questions should be raised not only be about the reality of the military progress (though there are many questions there to be asked) or about the stalled political process (though those should definitely be pushed hard). I would like to see more fundamental questions raised than quibbling over how to evaluate progress in this city or that province. Does this military strategy lead to the political outcome to which we are publicly committed? If the goal is to create a functional, inclusive Iraqi state, then are these tactics furthering that goal or undermining it? Or has the US changed its goals without acknowledging the change, giving up on a multi-ethnic centralized state and paving the way to soft partition?

    Is the strategic trajectory we are currently on beneficial to the political track? The political outcome being the decisive component of the "surge" and a necessity to stabilizing the situation in Iraq. Here's what Lynch has stumbled upon in short form (but read the whole post here).

    Basically, Ambassador Ryan Crocker is working from the top down on a national Iraqi government. This is the goal in Iraq; a strong, friendly (or at least neutral) central government. One the military track, General David Petraeus has been working locally. Providing arms and other aid to local clans so they can do what a typical government would do: provide security. Petraeus has had a little success, but there has been much less for Crocker. But the question is: Why would the Shiite central government reconcile with local Sunni's who are being armed and supported by the US? One obvious conclusion surfaces for Lynch, "Petraeus's military 'successes' and local initiatives come at the expense of the national political track, not in support of it." Maybe they expect to meet in the middle. That, of course, wouldn't be the ends were sold earlier this year.

    Let's hope some members of Congress and and the media comprehend this point and ask tough questions of the pair in their mid-September briefing.

    Posted by Geoff

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