Posted by Curt on 10 February, 2008 at 11:34 am. 19 comments already!

This goes along quite nicely with Scott’s recent post on the ChickenDove party. Here is Nancy Pelosi on CNN today:

Anchor Wolf Blitzer asked: “Are you not worried, though, that all the gains that have been achieved over the past year might be lost?”

“There haven’t been gains, Wolf,” the speaker replied. “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure. The troops have succeeded, God bless them. We owe them the greatest debt of gratitude for their sacrifice, their patriotism, and for their courage and to their families as well.

“But they deserve better than the policy of a war without end, a war that could be 20 years or longer.

Typical simpleminded Nancy.

The political situation is NOT a failure. Its a long way from being deemed a success but nothing happens overnight, and to call a strategy a failure because Iraq does not look like a United States democracy is pure and utter baloney. She knows this but obviously has to cater to her puppetmasters at MoveOn.

If you really want to get a handle on the political process in Iraq read Bill Ardolino’s excellent series, Inside Iraqi Politics. After reading that two part series (with more to come) there is no way you can come away from it without feeling like its a miracle that we have been able to facilitate so many factions working together. Factions which until recently wanted each other dead.

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US advisers see enthusiasm for national reconciliation and reconstruction in quarters of the Iraqi executive branch, but the highly variable and often poor ability of the ministries and various committees will determine whether Iraqi citizens perceive the government’s competence or willingness to reconcile all sects of Iraq.

“There’s been a lot of debate about … whether [lack of progress] is sectarian, whether there is true interest in reconciliation or not; our observations over the last six months in close operations on a daily basis with these folks [in the IFCNR] is a lot of it has a lot less to do with sectarianism than just pure inefficiency,” said Steeves. “That does not undermine the fact that as far as the GOI is concerned, that you probably do have sectarian actors at other levels of the government. You have a fragmented and fractured civil society, and there are a few good actors who are attempting to heal those rifts and overcome sectarian divides – not just Sunni-Shia [conflict] – but you’re also talking corruption, pure self-interest, and awareness of what it means to be Iraqi.”

US personnel are assisting Iraqis at most levels, from the prime minister’s office to the ministries to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and public works advisers in the provinces, but most agree that these advisory efforts will need time and persistence to have requisite effect on an inefficient and rapidly changing Iraqi bureaucracy. Assuming maintenance of improved security, 2008 will be a crucial year for Iraq’s executive branch, which must deliver more services and jobs, distribute oil revenue, spend and execute a much greater proportion of the budget than in years past, and effectively integrate local security forces into police and public works employment.

Some US personnel are optimistic that the development of Iraq’s administrative “capacity” will improve many of the conditions related to reconciliation. Most stress Iraqi solutions to Iraq’s problems. And all assert that “the way forward” is contingent on rapidly shifting conditions on the ground, while few are willing to venture firm predictions of success or failure.

“I think a sober assessment comes back to, we cannot dictate the outcome but we can dictate the means,” said Steeves. “And I think the means we are using now are some of the best we can utilize under the circumstances we find ourselves.”

When pressed, Colonel Martin M. Stanton, Chief of Reconciliation and Engagement for Multinational Corps-Iraq, was one of the few to hesitantly give odds of the Iraqi government accomplishing goals quickly enough to maintain recent stability:

“I’d say even,” said Stanton. “It’s all going to come down to reconstruction and employment, because at the end of the day people will put up with a lot if they just have a job and the standard of their living is improving.”

We’re a ways off from calling it a success, but it damn sure is NOT a failure Nancy.

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