Some news from Iraq to buttress the pessimists:

It was the first time so many commanders had gathered in Baghdad to meet Mr. Maliki, who in recent months has styled himself as commander in chief, a post not mentioned in the Iraqi Constitution. The defense minister, in his preliminary remarks, referred to Mr. Maliki repeatedly as his “master” and “commander in chief,” as did other speakers... The tenor of the meeting reminded many of similar ones between Saddam Hussein and his commanders, which featured fawning speeches praising him, the use of the word “master” when addressing him, and a recitation by a nationalist poet. In Thursday’s case, the poem was a recent one denouncing terrorism.

Then this just in:

A lawmaker who was head of the largest Sunni bloc in Iraq’s Parliament was assassinated Friday after presiding over prayers at a mosque in downtown Baghdad. The gunman, who some security officials said appeared to be around 15 years old, fired on other worshippers and threw a grenade before being killed by mosque guards... “He was probably the No. 1 person in defending human rights,” said Alaa Maki, a senior member of Tawafiq, the Sunni bloc. “And he was the No. 1 person visiting and touring the Iraqi jails.”

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