Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Doubling down

Dexter Filkins, the New York Times' former (and intrepid) Baghdad correspondent (and the author of one of last year's truly magnificent books, The Forever War) has a fascinating review of Thomas Ricks' new book, The Gamble, in this week's New Republic.

Anyone who cares about what happens in Iraq (which, I think, should include everybody) must read it. (That is, they should read the Filkins article. I haven't had a chance to look at the Ricks book yet. But I can vouch for Ricks' previous book, Fiasco.)

Both Ricks and Filkins struck me as initially very critical of the war and the surge. But the point that both of them are making is that Iraq is a completely different place than it was two years ago -- and almost entirely for the better.

Only a fool wouldn't recognize just how fragile the situation is, and not treat Iraq with an appropriate sense of skepticism, but it would also take a stubborn fool not to take seriously the tremendous amount of progress that has taken place since 2006.

What does this mean for the future? I think that whatever President Obama has said in the past, it means American forces aren't going anywhere any time soon.

No matter how horrible a mistake this war has been, it makes no sense whatsoever to compound this folly by letting the place revert back to its hellish, 2005 state. I think Obama's way too smart to let that happen.

Going to be a long haul...