Can an embassy of ambassadors save Iraq?

STRINGER/AFP As CSIS analyst Anthony Cordesman notes in his assessment of current conditions in Iraq, “the US also now has a country team in Iraq that is far more capable than in the past.” And it’s not just “the new Jesus,” a.k.a. Gen. David Petraeus, that we’re talking about here. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, for instance, ...

600091_070808_crocker_05.jpg
600091_070808_crocker_05.jpg

STRINGER/AFP

As CSIS analyst Anthony Cordesman notes in his assessment of current conditions in Iraq, "the US also now has a country team in Iraq that is far more capable than in the past."

And it's not just "the new Jesus," a.k.a. Gen. David Petraeus, that we're talking about here. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, for instance, may look goofy, but he's probably the most skilled diplomat the United States has had in Iraq thus far. Just look at the A-team he was able to assemble after complaining to Secretary of State Condi Rice about the staffing:

STRINGER/AFP

As CSIS analyst Anthony Cordesman notes in his assessment of current conditions in Iraq, “the US also now has a country team in Iraq that is far more capable than in the past.”

And it’s not just “the new Jesus,” a.k.a. Gen. David Petraeus, that we’re talking about here. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, for instance, may look goofy, but he’s probably the most skilled diplomat the United States has had in Iraq thus far. Just look at the A-team he was able to assemble after complaining to Secretary of State Condi Rice about the staffing:

The former ambassador to Greece is in charge of the embassy’s economic affairs office; the former ambassador to Albania runs the political affairs office; the former ambassador to Bangladesh is Crocker’s deputy; and the former ambassador to Uzbekistan is coordinating U.S. efforts in Iraq’s provinces.

Cordesman’s not ready to declare that all is gumdrops and lollypops in Iraq, however. He makes a point of distancing himself from the upbeat assessment of Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, even though the three men went on the same trip to Iraq. Cordesman’s bottom line?

It is just possible that “strategic patience” can work over time. What are the odds of such success? No one can honestly say, but they may well become higher than the 50-50 level if Iraq’s political leaders do move forward by early 2008, if the Sunnis are co-opted by the government and brought into the Iraqi Security Forces, and if the US does not rush out for domestic political purposes. 

That’s a lot of ifs.

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