It's been a dispiriting week in Iraq. The largest Sunni Arab bloc quit the Maliki government
. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was admittedly discouraged
over the lack of political progress in Iraq and conceded the administration "might have misjudged the difficulty of achieving reconciliation between Iraq's sectarian factions." Chairman of the Joint Chiefs nominee Navy Adm. Michael Mullen acknowledged
"there does not appear to be much political progress" in Iraq. Asked about success, Mullen added, "[B]ased on the...lack of political reconciliation...I would be concerned about whether we'd be winning or not."
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, is "increasingly unable to pull the government out of its paralysis," and is frequently "consumed by conspiracy theories
." What's more, Maliki, who vowed
in November that Iraqi security forces would be fully ready to take control by June 2007, now concedes he suspects U.S. troops may be needed in Iraq for at least another five years
Even Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack, the right's two new favorite thinkers, have backpedaled
away from their controversial New York Times op-ed
that had been quickly embraced by the GOP establishment.
With all of this discouraging news coming just within the last several days, it should come as no surprise that William Kristol is now completely convinced that he has the momentum
on his side.
For the Iraq war's opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military analysts -- Democrats, no less! -- reporting that the situation on the ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable. It began with a plan for a series of votes in Congress that were supposed to stampede nervous Republicans against the continued prosecution of the war. It ended with the GOP spine stiffened, no antiwar legislation passed, and the Democratic Congress adjourning in disarray, with approval ratings lower than President Bush's.
It takes a special kind of worldview that leads a person to look at one discouraging development after another, and conclude, "Finally, everything's going my way!"