Nice Surge You Got There. Shame It Isn't Going to Work.


Spencer Ackerman has already paged through the National Intelligence Estimate and reports that the conclusions are grim.

The Sunnis remain "unwilling to accept minority status" and believe the Shiite majority is a stalking horse for Iran. The Shiites remain "deeply insecure" about their hold on power, meaning that the Shiite leadership views U.S.-desired compromises—on oil, federalism and power-sharing—as a threat to its position. Perhaps most ominously, the upcoming referendum on the oil-rich, multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk threatens to be explosive, as the Kurds are determined to finally regain full control over the city.

Interestingly, the listed prospects for reversing Iraq's deterioration contradict the NIE's assessment of where things actually stand. For instance, "broader Sunni acceptance of the current political structure and federalism" and "significant concessions by Shia and Kurds" could lead to stability—but the NIE's earlier section viewed both these events as unlikely. To put this in the realm of the current debate, President Bush's "surge" is designed to give political breathing room to events that the intelligence community formally judges as unrealistic.

Mickey Kaus is asking if surge opponents are taking a risk in opposing something that could work. If that's even possible, I suppose hawks have got to hope that our intelligence is as lousy now as it was in 2002.