There is no doubt about it—violence in
Sitting here ten thousand miles away in my house, without any unpublished sources of information, it is extremely difficult for me to know how to interpret all this. Given the persistence of the much higher casualties since last December, I am inclined to believe that something has changed. The one change of which we are definitely aware is in Anbar, where American authorities have struck deals with local sheiks to form an alliance against Al Queda in
The trend must not be exaggerated. 69 deaths is around the median for the first eight months of 2006, just before the first of two major increases in US casualties began, and certainly not a period in which the war was going well.
Meanwhile, there has been no progress towards the reconciliation of
A mixture of deployment in populated areas and (more importantly) deals with local elites—the stable of British and French imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—has calmed things down somewhat in what had been the most violent area of the country. Here another
There is another parallel between
What Petraeus seems for the moment to have proven is that an increased American presence among the population can reduce violence, although it remains at high levels. But that in turns only means—as for the French in Algeria or the Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza—that the U.S. can hold down (but not eliminate) violence as long as it is willing to stay in Iraq. That is President Bush’s intention: for us to remain for generations. In their most recent debate, none of the leading Democrats would promise to get out of