Marine Maj. Gen. John F. Kelly told The Associated Press that his greatest "mission failure" was his inability to bring together the government in Baghdad and the Sunnis in Anbar to take advantage of the steep decline in violence.
"What the Iraqi government in Baghdad should have done is said Anbar is getting peaceful, let's commit," Kelly told the AP in a telephone interview from his headquarters southwest of Baghdad, as he begins to make preparations to hand over command of 23,000 Marines next month to Maj. Gen. Richard T. Tyron.
"It drives me to distraction," he said. "I would count it as a mission failure."
Reconciliation? Meh, not so much. The many faction feuds and sectarian rivalries which helped make Iraq so bloody are still there, just tamped down for a while - hopefully long enough for the US to declare victory and (pretend to) withdraw. I'm mostly OK with that, since it's the Iraqi people's "pottery barn" and it should always have been their perogative to break it more or mend it as they see fit. I just wish the US government, politicians, militrary and mainstream media would be honest about it.
By the time it flares up again, US leaders appear to be hoping, those troops left in Iraq will be rebranded as trainers and securely inside fortified bases where they can get on with their original primary mission, as conceived by neo-whatevers from left and right, of being the US dog in the Gulf manger.
And I fully expect the Obama administration's strategy for Afghanistan to be doing exactly the same thing there.