- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thought I was a pessimist about Iraq until I read this comment by a U.S. military official in today’s Washington Post:
All we’re doing is setting the clock back to 2005. … The militias are fully armed, and al-Qaeda in Iraq is trying to move back from the west. These are the conditions now, and we’re sitting back looking at PowerPoint slides and whitewashing."
Ugh. I think 2005 was my least favorite year of the war Iraq, when things were falling apart and the American officials were insisting that they weren’t. 2006 was bloodier but at least by the end of the year, it was clear that something had to change.
The official’s comment in the Post reminds me of when, a few months ago, a top American expert in Iraqi affairs took me aside to warn me that I was dangerously optimistic. I asked him if he misspoke and mean that I was too pessimistic about the prospects for Iraq. "No," he said, shaking his head. "You are too optimistic. You think a civil war in Iraq is avoidable. It is not. It is inevitable."
Meanwhile, General Odierno is calling out Chalabi and others as tools of Iran. Good for him.