I would consider this a direct rebuke of Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack.
VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal… The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework…
Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”
In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are an army of occupation and force our withdrawal.
Read the full thing here.
Update: There is a really good reported piece on life in Baghdad in Newsweek today. Here’s the passage with the most direct summary, but the rest is filled with captivating details and personal stories:
While security is returning to some areas of Baghdad, modern conveniences aren’t necessarily following. The Iraqi capital is no longer the place described in the old guidebooks, a metropolis of casinos, culture and Western-run hotel chains, although vestiges of that city can still be found. Instead, unceasing violence has thrust Baghdad back to a more primitive era, forcing its people to take up pre-industrial occupations and rediscover almost forgotten technologies. The collapse of municipal water services has revived the profession of well-digging… Donkey and horse carts are increasingly common on the capital’s streets…