When it comes to U.S. policy in Iraq, we’ve thankfully seen some progress on the security front, but the administration’s so-called “surge” has fallen far short of its goals. The White House and the Maliki government established a series of benchmarks earlier this year, nearly all of which have gone unmet. Political reconciliation, ostensibly the purpose of the surge, remains non-existent.
If you ask Iraqis about how best to achieve political progress, they’ll offer a helpful perspective.
Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month. […]
Dated December 2007, the report notes that “the Iraqi government has still made no significant progress toward its fundamental goal of national reconciliation.” Asked to describe “the current situation in Iraq to a foreign visitor,” some groups focused on positive aspects of the recent security improvements. But “most would describe the negative elements of life in Iraq beginning with the ‘U.S. occupation’ in March 2003,” the report says.
To be sure, Gen. Petraeus & Co. are putting their most encouraging spin on the focus-group results. The WaPo noted, “At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some ’shared beliefs’ that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war.”
Yes, I suppose that’s true. But if those “shared beliefs” include the notion that we’re an “occupying force” responsible for ruining Iraqis’ lives, isn’t it a little difficult to be “optimistic”?