SO WE WON AND THE TROOPS CAN COME HOME NOW, RIGHT? RIGHT?
The same right-wingers who've been telling us recently that the whole point of the war is to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq are now trumpeting a Washington Post story that bears the headline "Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled" -- but tells us that we shouldn't say "Al-Qaeda in Iraq is crippled" out loud, because, well,
Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved.
No! Not that! Anything but that! Our precious war! We must continue our precious war! It's not a civil war -- it's about us fighting pure evil!
And who is reportedly one of the generals who doesn't want us to declare victory over AQI? Why, that great defender of keeping the war going as long as his commander in chief wants to -- Saint Petraeus:
... Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of U.S. Central Command, which oversees Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, is urging restraint, [a military intelligence] official said....
Senior U.S. commanders on the ground, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, have long complained that Central Command, along with the CIA, is too negative in its analyses. On this issue, however, Petraeus agrees with Fallon, the military intelligence official said.
And one of his fellow water-carriers for Bush is also cautious:
For each assessment of progress against AQI, there is a cautionary note that comes from long and often painful experience. Despite the increased killings and captures of AQI members, [Lt. Gen. Raymond T.] Odierno said, "it only takes three people" to construct and detonate a suicide car bomb that can "kill thousands."
But General Odierno! General Petraeus! There's good news from Iraq, and you're playing it down! You sound like ... defeatocrats!
Actually, there may not really be as much good news from Iraq as the headline suggests: As the story notes, it's quite possible that AQI is merely regrouping and/or shifting north (and/or going off to make trouble in Afghanistan) -- and, of course, any success we may be having against AQI may be the result of the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from many neighborhoods, which isn't exactly a precondition for long-term success in a unified Iraq. (And, of course, AQI isn't the only insurgent group in Iraq, by far.)
But if all the right-wingers who've reduced the incredible complexity of conflict in Iraq to Us vs. AQI would like to declare victory so we can bring the troops home, I'm all for it. I'm not holding my breath, however.
UPDATE: Steve Benen reminds us just how small a part of our problem in Iraq AQI is.