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December 8, 2007
Snapshot of conditions in Iraq
NPR's Fresh Air program has an interview with the Washington Post's military correspondent Thomas Ricks, whose most recent trip to Iraq ended Novenmebr 10th. Ricks has been an excellent source on the realities of the Iraq War, not least in his book Fiasco, the insights of which have stood the test of time.
Ricks strikes the same cautionary note as General Odierno has recently. To wit, while there has been tremendous military success in recent months, this seems to be the second-to-last step, not the final step in achieving our objectives in Iraq. The current Shia-dominated Iraqi government does not, in the end, share the American goal of reconciliation, but rather has an agenda of dominance.
This would certainly seem to be the time for the Administration to capitalize on its vision and courage by involving itself directly in achieving whatever political settlement is possible. The Administration has pursued a hands-off management approach to this war. If, as seems to be the case, the military has done its job, then it strikes this writer that the time has come for the Administration to become hands-on in ramming through a successful settlement.
We now have warnings from two excellent sources -- General Odierno and Mr. Ricks -- that more needs to be done if we are to capitalize on what has been done. There is no room here for dropping the ball a second time.