A must read from today’s Washington Post.
Making Iraq Safe for Politics – Fred Kagan, Jack Keane & Michael O’Hanlon
Iraq’s parliament this month passed a new de-Baathification bill, which awaits only expected approval by the five-member presidency council before becoming law. Much remains to be done, but this is an important step toward political reconciliation — and it further strengthens the case for America to remain committed to its crucial mission in Iraq in the months and years ahead.
The reformed de-Baathification legislation is one of half a dozen key political issues codified into American law last year by President Bush and Congress as “benchmarks” we expected Iraqi leaders to address. Other matters so identified are hydrocarbon legislation; a provincial powers act (clarifying the roles of Iraq’s 18 provinces vis-a-vis the central government); a provincial election law to facilitate the next round of local elections; a process for holding a referendum on the political future of Kirkuk, the disputed northern oil city (and for compensating individual property holders and sectarian groups who lose out in such a vote); and a more transparent and trustworthy process for purging sectarian extremists from positions of government authority.
These benchmarks are reasonable goals. It is regrettable that insufficient progress has been made on the others (with the exception of the long, slow progress of purging extremists from official positions). What really matters, however, is that Iraqis come to view themselves as a single people working together to build a new nation, and address their inevitable differences legislatively rather than violently.
This political progress resulted from a year’s worth of substantial effort to reduce violence in Iraq. Proponents of the surge always said that getting violence under control was an essential prerequisite to reconciliation, not the other way around. The full surge has been in place and operating for just over six months, and already violence has fallen dramatically across the country. The achievement in such a short time of significant legislation that requires all sides to accept risk and compromise with people they had been fighting only a few months ago is remarkable. It would have been unattainable without the change in strategy and addition of American forces that helped bring the violence down.
Many people in Washington (mainly from one political party) are still urging, hoping and pushing for America to slink away from Iraq and give a victory to al-Qaeda. Luckily, our brave men and women on the ground (around the world) are taking this World War to the enemy….. and keeping further attacks on our homeland.
God Bless America and our brave US military.