You’re absolutely right, John, that we shouldn’t let our ideology close our eyes and ears to the facts on the ground. But there have been an awful lot of vaunted “turning points” in Iraq that turned into dust, no? Even in the case of the surge, where we have seen real and so far enduring reductions in violence, the rationale has shifted from creating the conditions for a national political settlement to focusing on local solutions — in part because the former didn’t work. Maybe that doesn’t repudiate all the hawks’ arguments forever, especially in light of the declining violence, but it certainly makes the skepticism understandable.
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