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 he basically got the brush off. Which says something, both about how little pull he’s got in Baghdad right now, as well as how intransigent the underlying divisions among the Iraqi factions are.

Here’s a question: If after the year of improved security, things suddenly take a marked turn for the worse (the Sunnis return to a war footing, Kirkuk boils over, or any of the other lurking scenarios), what then? Is it time to declare Iraq a lost coause and cut our losses? Or is that all the more reason to stay? And beyond the strategic aspect of the question, would American opinion accept a return to pre-Surge levels of violence, especially if itwere to be increasingly redirected at American troops? It’s a hypothetical, I know, but I’m curious to here what readers of the blog are thinking.