TACTICS vs. STRATEGY....Ryan Crocker's job in Iraq is to create political stability at the national level. David Petraeus's job is to reduce violence enough to create some breathing space for that to happen. However, he's chosen to do this mostly with local initiatives, and Marc Lynch makes the interesting argument that this is probably subverting Crocker, not helping him:
Petraeus, Bush, and their defenders argue that the local initiatives might provide the foundations for a national reconciliation down the road. Perhaps. But for now it looks more like the local initiatives, which are providing the temporary 'successes' which will justify continuing the administration's course of action, aren't just not being matched by political progress but are actually undermining the national political process. They are organizing the Sunnis outside of the state rather than fostering integration. And by heightening Sunni military weight and political expectations, these policies likely encouraged the political trainwreck we saw over the last few weeks: Sunni leaders felt emboldened to demand more, while Shia leaders worried about making concessions to a group accumulating military and political power outside their control.As usual, there's more at the link. It's worth reading.
I understand why Petraeus has chosen this route. Iraqi political institutions and the Iraqi state are so far gone, and so implicated in one side of the sectarian conflict, that avoiding them and starting over at the local level probably made good pragmatic sense....But this is what I meant few weeks ago when I wrote about tactics working against the strategy.