American Elephants


General David Petraeus Speaks to Us From Northern Iraq: by The Elephant's Child
May 23, 2015, 8:10 pm
Filed under: History | Tags: , , ,

The Washington Post on Wednesday carried answers to written questions from reporter Liz Sly while he was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get- together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

He spoke of mistakes the Americans have made and mistakes the Iraqis themselves have made, the squandering of so much of what we had achieved, and the exploitation of those failures by extremists on both sides.

Having said that, my sense is that the situation in Iraq today is, to repeat a phrase I used on the eve of the surge, hard but not hopeless. I believe that a reasonable outcome here is still achievable, although it will be up to all of us — Iraqis, Americans, leaders in the region and leaders of the coalition countries — to work together to achieve it.

What has happened in Iraq is a tragedy — for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the entire world. It is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the Surge was sustained for over three years.  What transpired after that, starting in late 2011, came about as a result of mistakes and misjudgments whose consequences were predictable. And there is plenty of blame to go around for that.

Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State. In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

The whole piece is to be found here. Do read the whole thing, it’s not long.


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