Thank you, Zbig, for this very, very kind introduction. Many of you know that the Twelver Shia speak of certain individuals whom believers should seek to imitate, calling them the marjaiyya. To many of us who are playing policy roles but who have academic backgrounds, Zbig, you are a source for imitation. I also want to thank CSIS for giving me this opportunity to share my assessment of the situation in Iraq and my view on the way ahead, as well as to engage in some questions and answers.
I will give my bottom line up front. I believe Americans, while remaining tactically patient about Iraq, should be strategically optimistic. Most important, a major change - a tectonic shift - has taken place in the political orientation of the Sunni Arab community. A year ago, Sunni Arabs were outside of the political process and hostile to the United States. They boycotted the January 2005 election and were underrepresented in the transitional national assembly. Today, Sunni Arabs are full participants in the political process, with their representation in the national assembly now proportional to their share of the population. Also, they have largely come to see the United States as an honest broker in helping Iraq's communities come together around a process and a plan to stabilize the country.
Moreover, al Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly weakened during the past year. ...
Now compare the opening words of this worthless piece of tripe from the Washington Post:
America's top envoy in Baghdad yesterday denied that Iraq is now embroiled in a civil war but acknowledged growing concern that sectarian clashes could derail the new government if violence is not brought under control. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad also said the new security crackdown in Baghdad has been a disappointment and is being reviewed to make "adjustments."
Hat tip to Mudville Gazette for passing this on - the Washington Post article, I mean, which I wouldn't have known about otherwise because I don't usually bother with the Post. This is why. I read The Belmont Club every day; this is why. As Greyhawk says, "The Post story is a complete waste of time."
Wonder when the editors and readers of the Post are going to get a clue.