The Beltway's conventional wisdom has long been that the war in Iraq is over. According to the partisan GOP blogs, Bush won the war last year. And yet, for all the many reports of a new calm in Iraq, and on the day that Tom Friedman buys into Maliki's hope that a new non-sectarian future is imminent, two massive car bombs reveal that security still needs a city divided by huge, concrete barriers, and American troops for investigation and clean-up. It's worth recalling that this is still happening even as over 120,000 US troops remain in the country. If this can happen when they are there in such vast numbers, what are the odds that Iraq will remain half-way peaceful and unified when/if the US leaves?
For those who believe the surge solved the Iraq problem, these are inconvenient truths. But the surge failed in its core task: to create an environment in which the three major sects in Iraq could form a national government, a national army, and a stable balance between the three major centrifugal forces in the country and in Baghdad. Maliki's bid for a post-sectarian polity rests fundamentally on his claim to have restored some semblance of security. But how easy it will be for that semblance to be wiped out by violence of the kind demonstrated today.