Greg Djerejian has a very helpful analysis of Tony Cordesman's expert assessment of the situation in Iraq. Here's Cordesman:
There is a real opportunity that did not exist at the start of the year. What is critical to understand, however, is that while the surge strategy has had value in some areas, much of this progress has not [been] the function of the surge strategy, US planning, or action by the Maliki government. In fact, the "new" strategy President Bush announced in January 2007 has failed in many aspects of its original plan... Without the unplanned uprising by the Sunni tribes, the US simply did not have enough forces to carry out the present level of operations if it had had to rely solely on the real-world capability of the official Iraqi Security forces.
And will the Sunni uprising endure? Only if the Maliki government extends an olive branch. And that's unlikely:
The almost universal criticism of Maliki's office during a recent trip to Iraq showed that it is seen as too closely tied to the sectarian cleansing effort in Baghdad and south Baghdad, as involved in freeing JAM and Shiite detainees, as refusing to work with the Sunni tribes out of fear they will gain power and as refusing to bring Sunni fighters into local security forces and the police for the same reason.
So we have one small stroke of luck - which looks like collapsing within a few months, absent a major shift in the Baghdad government, which is teetering on total collapse. Greg concludes:
Look, what this Administration, and its allies, simply can’t wrap their heads around is that the war is, for all intensive purposes, already lost, and we must now focus like a laser on containing the damage via region-wide crisis management and diplomacy.
I fear he's right. But read them both.