An Iraq View from Three Analysts Recently Returned

Three senior fellows of the Center for a New American Security, John Nagl, Colin Kahl, and Shawn Brimley, held a press briefing Aug. 13 at the center’s headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, in which they recounted their observations on a recent trip to Iraq. The three traveled to Iraq on the invitation of Gen. David Petraeus, received high-level briefings, visited multiple Iraqi provinces, and spoke with a number of Iraqi politicians and citizens, according to CNAS. Although the three experts differed on certain points, there was somewhat of a consensus about the reality of two parallel phenomena: 1) security […]

August is when official Washington shuts down and heads off for vacation. Congressmen and senators travel to their districts to politick, especially in these even-numbered years, and presidents travel to their ranches or beach houses or, this year, to the Olympics. But that wasn’t the case during the administration of George H.W. Bush. In fact, it was during these dog days of summer that the elder Bush was busiest. The next president could learn a thing or two from the 41st — about what to do and what not to do. It’s regrettable that Bush’s presidency is usually mentioned in […]

The Iraqi Provincial Elections That Weren’t

Marc Lynch at Abu Aardvark and Dr. iRak at Abu Muqawama (the latter just back from a visit to Iraq) both take a look at the Iraqi parliament’s failure to pass the provincial elections law. The upshot? We’re not out of the woods yet. So once again the good news out of Iraq is balanced out by the threat of potential pitfalls ahead, which oddly enough is used by advocates for both continued military engagement and withdrawal to justify their arguments. One thing, too, is painfully obvious. President Bush really wanted these elections to take place on his watch, and […]

Al-Sadr to Disarm?

While an outspoken critic of both the logic and conduct of the Iraq War, I’m always happy to flag good news when it arrives. And the steady reduction in violence in Iraq, while fragile, is obviously good news. I’m just never convinced by the arguments of causality used to explain it by advocates of the war. On the other hand, if Moqtada al-Sadr’s decision to disarm his militia plays out the way this Guardian article (also via today’s WPR Media Roundup) is reporting it, it is not only very good news. It is the most positive outcome to date that […]

The Case for Iraq Withdrawal Timetables

According to this CFR backgrounder, neighboring Arab states are increasing their aid to and engagement with Iraq as a pre-emptive security investment in the event of an increasingly expected American troop withdrawal. Of course, forcing Iraq’s neighbors to assume more of a burden in stabilizing the country was one of the logical underpinnings of a withdrawal timeline, along with the pressure it would place on the Iraqi political process to make progress on power sharing arrangements. So, basically, two for two. Meanwhile, why does nobody ever mention the November 2006 midterm elections, which conclusively demonstrated that American public opinion had […]

The recent clashes in eastern Afghanistan thrust the “forgotten war” back into the public eye. At a time when admittedly fragile stability is taking hold in Iraq, it is also an important reminder that the need for improved counterinsurgency capabilities neither began nor will end there. The international effort to stabilize Afghanistan is in peril, and the United States and its NATO allies lack many of the resources required to effectively secure and reconstruct that war-torn country. Against this backdrop, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s inauguration of the Civilian Response Corps is a very welcome development. The demands of large-scale […]