The New Iraq
From Charles Krauthammer:
[D]ecades of Saddam Hussein‘s totalitarianism followed by the brutality of the post-invasion insurgency destroyed much of Iraq’s political infrastructure, causing Iraqis to revert to the most basic political attachment — tribe and locality. Gen. David Petraeus‘s genius has been to adapt American strategy to capitalize on that development, encouraging the emergence of and allying ourselves with tribal and provincial leaders — without waiting for cosmic national deliverance from the newly constructed and still dysfunctional constitutional apparatus in Baghdad.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is in disarray, the Sunni insurgency in decline, the Shiite militias quiescent, the capital city reviving. Are we now to reverse course and abandon all this because parliament cannot ratify the reconciliation already occurring on the ground?
Do the critics forget their own arguments about the irrelevance of formal political benchmarks? The transfer of power in 2004. The two elections in 2005. The ratification of the constitution. Those were all supposed to be turning points to pacify the country and bring stability — all blown to smithereens by the Samarra bombing in February 2006, which precipitated an orgy of sectarian violence and a descent into civil war.
So, just as we have learned this hard lesson of the disconnect between political benchmarks and real stability, the critics now claim the reverse — that benchmarks are what really count.
This is to fundamentally mistake ends and means. The benchmarks would be a wonderful shortcut to success in Iraq. But it is folly to abandon the pursuit of that success when a different route, more arduous but still doable, is at hand and demonstrably working.
Read the whole thing, and the WaPo piece on the distance traveled and the long way yet to go. Against this backdrop, the attempt by Democrats to defund victory is easily the most callous political act since the American left forced the Democrats to abandon South Vietnam and Cambodia to the horrors that followed.