"I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration."
Vice President Joseph Biden's comments to CNN's Larry King sparked a brouhaha for an obvious reason: When they were senators, Biden and Barack Obama opposed the "surge" that averted America's defeat in Iraq. It takes chutzpah to now claim credit for the fruits of that strategy.
But a less obvious and more significant point is being missed: Iraq may, in the end, turn out to be nobody's achievement. It may turn out to be a military success transformed by politicians and diplomats into a bipartisan failure. Recent developments in Iraq are ominous. The Obama administration is not addressing them effectively. And conservative critics of the Obama administration are strangely silent.
Robert Dreyfus, a journalist of the left with whom I seldom agree, writes for The Nation, a publication of the far left that usually makes my eyes roll. But in his Nation blog, Dreyfus correctly notes that as the campaign gets underway for Iraq's March 7 elections, close to 500 candidates have been banned for alleged ties to the Ba'ath Party by the Justice and Accountability Council, "an unelected panel headed by an Iran-linked terrorist, Ali al-Lami."
Among those barred are "the No. 2 and No. 3 candidates in the main opposition bloc, the Iraqi Nationalist Movement, which is led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi [a secular Shia]. Already, two members of Allawi's party have been assassinated while campaigning. ... Allawi, who many observers say had a credible chance of winning enough votes to lead a governing coalition after the election, has suspended his campaign ...many Sunni leaders are talking about a boycott."