The Limits Of Anbar

Michael Totten emails:

I wish I disagreed with what you wrote on your blog, but I don't.

The "Awakening" model is spreading elsewhere in the country, which is good, but something else will need to happen in Baghdad, especially, for the reasons you outline.

Also, the Mahdi Army will be tougher to beat than Al Qaeda because they are less extreme and less likely to be rejected by the society as a whole. So while the Anbar model is exportable to an extent - it is being exported to Diyala Province, Salah a Din Province, and even to some places in the South - winning everywhere in Iraq (if it's even possible, and I really don't know if it is) will require something more. The success in Anbar Province is real, but it would be a mistake to assume that solution can be applied to the entire country. It probably can't. I wouldn't say reconciliation between Sunnia and Shias is impossible, but if it is possible it won't be because of what happened in Anbar.

A voice of sanity from the ground. Hit his tip jar. Tom Ricks echoes Michael's judgment here.