John, I’m sure you won’t be shocked to discover that I don’t believe the O’Hanlon/Pollack op-ed represents the sea change that some of my more hawkish brethren seem to think it does. O’Hanlon and Pollack are not converts on the war or even the latest strategy. They both supported the invasion and the surge. They both made optimistic predictions about the war dating as far back as 2003.
Sure, they have at times been critical of how the war has been carried out. So has John McCain; so has the Weekly Standard; so have most thoughtful supporters of the war. Both the op-ed and some conservative commentators reacting to it make the pair sound more opposed to the president’s policies than they actually have been.
I understand the desire to counter Iraq negativity in the press and from paleo-ish cranks like myself, but the eagerness to cry “turning point” whenever there is any encouraging data without waiting to see how long it lasts is one of the reasons independents have begun to tune out pro-war arguments. It is premature to draw too many conclusions based on improvements from the July 30 Brookings Iraq Index versus the July 26 edition. And O’Hanlon and Pollack don’t seem to pay enough attention to Iraqi political conditions, which is where the most drastic improvement is needed.
But I do agree that Josh Marshall’s post is insane.