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Crazy Hippies Strike Again

If you can’t get enough of Brookings members’ NYT op-eds on Iraq, here’s another one.  Not very surprisingly, it basically cannot deny the overwhelming problems:

Unfortunately, at the moment the political paralysis seems to be a more powerful force than the military momentum, and progress in security is unsustainable without sectarian compromise among Iraq’s Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiites. The country remains very violent, and the economy rather stagnant.

In the end, the authors are forced to say:

Given the continuing violence, and the absence of political progress, Iraq is not now on a trajectory toward sustainable stability — and America is not yet on a clear path to an exit strategy.

Not much more than a month ago, O’Hanlon and Pollack wrote:

As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

It seems plain to me that the two statements flatly contradict each other, or at least the latest article undermines a main claim of the earlier op-ed.  I suppose there could be “potential” for sustainable stability, and still Iraq might not yet be on a “trajectory” towards sustainable stability, but the implication of the earlier statement is that there is a real likelihood of success and the implication of the later statement is that things generally look quite bad despite some marginal improvements here and there.  Somehow I don’t expect this item to be cited by excited war supporters as the latest revelation of the Oracle.  Somehow I expect that it will be very carefully ignored, but then I’m an awful cynic.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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