David Ignatius provides an optimistic and plausible interpretation of the recent Cairo meeting of Iraq factions. ... But do we really think that the planned Iraqi 6,000 man "Desert Protection Force" -- "pitched to Sunni tribal leaders as a way to liberate Anbar [province] from the Americans"-- will really rid Anbar of terrorists? From a distance it smells a bit like the ill-fated Fallujah Brigade. ... 12:58 A.M.
Aaron Sorkin interviews Maureen Dowd, and Elizabeth Snead finds one of them charming. 12:44 A.M.
Withdrawal proponents keep steering me to General William Odom's article on NiemanWatchdog. It's conclusory and unconvincing--relying almost entirely on flat invocation of the Vietnam analogy and Scowcroftian cultural pessimism:
Imposing a liberal constitutional order in Iraq would be to accomplish something that has never been done before.** Of all the world's political cultures, an Arab-Muslim one may be the most resistant to such change ...."
Odom also indulges in some suspiciously vague and optimistic talk about our ability to "knit together a large coalition, including the major states of Europe, Japan, South Korea, China and India to back a strategy for stabilizing the area"--without explaining how the South Koreans and Indians are going to succeed in stopping the Sunni insurgency if we have failed.
But you can't say Odom isn't candid:
There is no question the insurgents and other anti-American parties will take over the government once we leave. ...
The quicker a new dictator wins the political power in Iraq and imposes order, the sooner the country will stop producing well-experienced terrorists. [Emph. added]
P.S.: There's also one troubling sentence on what could turn out to be the fatal contradiction in the current Bush strategy of training an effective Iraqi military--if we're successful, it may just produce a coup down the road.
Experience around the world teaches us that military dictatorships arise when the military's institutional modernization gets ahead of political consolidation.
But experience around the world also teaches us that experience around the world is speeding up. "Political consolidation" that once took decades may now take years. At least that's a possibility Odom should confront, before he dismisses those who conclude, with President Clinton, that "this enterprise could still work."