Back to the War

I dunno. It's just too depressing, I guess, but for a while now I haven't really said much of anything about Iraq the country as opposed to Iraq the political issue. But just in time to confirm that the surge can't possibly "work" if by "work" we mean something like create a functioning pluralistic polity in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani (the good kind of Shiite theocrat, we'll recall) has come out against rolling back de-Baathification. Spencer Ackerman notes that this more-or-less marks the complete collapse of Zalmay Khalilzad's agenda in terms of bringing about political reconciliation in Iraq.

Khalilzad, it's worth saying, was the General Petraeus of his time -- the lone high-ranking administration official who actually had a good reputation and seemed as best I could tell to more-or-less deserve it. He couldn't, however, deliver the goods. Not through any particular fault of his own except that he was a diplomat rather than a magician. Just as Petraeus is only a general, only a man, only an American, not someone capable of conjuring the social bases of a liberal pluralistic Iraq out of the ether.