Watching Iraq

Peter Feaver worries:

June 30th is the deadline for U.S. combat troops to leave urban areas. The deadline was contained in the Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA) that the outgoing Bush administration negotiated and that the incoming Obama administration embraced back in March....Starting this week, the parade of critical junctures in Iraq will accelerate. If the Iraqis go ahead with plans to put the SoFA to a national referendum, the parade could become a stampede. When even skeptical war critics like Fareed Zakaria are penning articles about "Victory in Iraq" that read almost like a Bush valedictory speech on the topic, the opportunity for a decent outcome in Iraq seems tantalizingly close. I hope we are not jeopardizing that outcome with a premature withdrawal.

There has been no "victory" in Iraq.

After three years of total fiasco, there has been a competent counter-insurgency operation with 130,000 foreign troops. In that time, the critical political deals that were the criteria for the surge's alleged success were not made. Now, Maliki is bragging about throwing the Americans out, and looks as if he's slowly acquiring the trappings of a Shiite tough guy. The Sunni resistance - not integrated into the security forces - will no doubt respond. The neocons will blame Obama; and he will either have to hunker down and face betrayal of the core reason for his candidacy or get out and watch the place explode again.

Of course, I hope I'm proven wrong in this gloomy prognosis (and I was proven wrong in under-estimating the capacity of Petraeus to restore minimal order in 2007). But Iraq - like so much else - is yet another albatross bequeathed by Bush-Cheney, strangling American tax-payers and presidents for years to come.