I’m not sure the last time Republicans were directing people to the NY Times op/ed page. But count today as one of those days. There is a remarkable piece by two formerly fierce critics of the Iraq War – Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon.

Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

This may be the most jarring piece that I have read in a while if only because of how unexpected it is. Pollack and O’Hanlon really have been critics. They are very well respected. The NYT op/ed page conveys even more legitimacy. Some thoughts.
First, good. Great. We should all hope that this is true. It makes Gen. David Petraeus’ upcoming report all the more important.
Second, maybe it isn’t a big deal. Glenn Greenwald at Salon writes a pretty convincing piece about the oped that says it is far less than it is cracked up to be and that the authors are not the war critics they paint themselves as being.

What is the most vivid and compelling evidence of how broken our political system is? It is that the exact same people who urged us into the war in Iraq, were wrong in everything they said, and issued one false assurance after the next as the war failed, continue to be the same people held up as our Serious Iraq Experts. The exact “experts” to whom we listened in 2002 and 2003 are the same exact establishment “experts” now….

The Op-Ed is an exercise in rank deceit from the start. To lavish themselves with credibility — as though they are war skeptics whom you can trust — they identify themselves at the beginning “as two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq.” In reality, they were not only among the biggest cheerleaders for the war, but repeatedly praised the Pentagon’s strategy in Iraq and continuously assured Americans things were going well. They are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.

In our current political climate I am not sure what would cause one side to trust the other. There is so little trust, so much acrimony, so little faith in anyone that I am not sure how this situation can be resolved.
The most important prayer here is that a sense of trust might be built so real conversations might be had. I know the political situation in Iraq is horrid but ours isn’t screamingly healthy.

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