Dan Curry, a nice guy who I genuinely appreciate a good back and forth with, tries to argue that the decline in violence over the last 8 months is evidence of victory. Choosing the peak and then showing a decline is a misrepresentation of the data.
The violence is back to 2006 levels which is better than 2007 levels of violence, but hardly victory and certainly still a civil war. More importantly, the point of the surge was to reduce violence as a path to political reconciliation–that is not happening. Despite claims of progress on benchmarks, the Iraqis again failed to pass key legislation:
The legislation was vetoed because of the opposition of Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite vice president who sits on the three-member presidency council, which must approve all laws unanimously, according to his aides and other lawmakers. Abdul-Mahdi’s aides said he believed the law was unconstitutional and would put too much control in the hands of the central government instead of the provinces.
The passage of the law, which delineated the scope of provincial powers, was considered a crucial step not just because it fleshed out the constitution’s definition of Iraq as a federal state, but also because it would have required provincial elections to be held by Oct. 1. The last nationwide elections took place in 2005.
The entire language of the right on this issue guarantees failure. The point isn’t to militarily defeat anyone. The point is to create a stable democratic government in a country that is divided sharply on ethnic and religious grounds. The problem with this goal is that the different factions don’t appear to share that goal.