Three months ago, I wrote a column on these pages, "Jihadist Meltdown." In it, I envisioned the endgame of the insurgency — the prospect of jihadists turning on jihadists. Over the last two weeks, the Sunni strongholds of western Baghdad have witnessed street battles between the two main insurgent factions responsible for the bulk of violence in Iraq: Al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and the Islamic Army.
This is how it ends, with the remaining vigor of the insurgency being marshaled by violent men against like-minded violent men, releasing that unique anger and resentment that splintering groups reserve for those nearest to them in ideology. The Sunni insurgency, initially unleashed against the American project for a new Iraq, has become an internal Sunni problem. Its concluding phase shall be a process of attrition among Iraq's Sunnis that they must endure over the next decade — to be spent stamping out the embers of the fire they so foolishly started.
But before adopting a celebratory tone, we must be alerted to a disturbing symptom of America's stomach for sacrifice. Washington at war is a city of artificial deadlines, ones tending toward a hasty declaration of defeat rather than being engaged for the purpose of victory.
This echoes the points made by David Kilcullen and The Belmont Club that Washington's limited attention span is the real obstacle to success. Here's more from Kazimi:
American character should loathe an alliance of convenience with those who have American blood on their hands. But the bureaucratic instinct is to empower the Islamic Army — who remain boastful of killing American soldiers — by throwing them a lifeline of reprieve should they turn on Al Qaeda.
The architects of this approach are still in charge or have been promoted. The former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, is being feted around New York City as the new envoy to the United Nations, and the point person on Iraq at the White House, Megan O'Sullivan, has just been delegated as President Bush's political envoy to Baghdad. Both have nothing but shame to show for two years of backburner negotiations with the Islamic Army.
The quick fix is in: inviting the Islamic Army to the table among the forces that have joined the Iraqi political process. Wait a minute. Is this the same Islamic Army that adopted Al Qaeda's anti-Shiite rhetoric? The same Islamic Army that blew up American soldiers in retaliation for Israeli incursions into the West Bank? The same Islamic Army that has assassinated the family members of those Iraqis who are already at the table? To hell with this macabre banquet of ghouls, beheaders, and murderers. Let Al Qaeda weed out the Islamic Army, let beasts devour beasts.
Kazimi goes on to say:
et another of Washington's follies is its tendency to scapegoat others when things don't turn up peachy. The bête noirs of the day are the neoconservatives and the government of the prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. Unfortunately, a cowed President Bush is more than willing to pass on blame and offer sacrificial lambs to the partisan bonfire. Hence his administration's shameful stance on the Scooter Libby trial and verdict.
Another easy target is Mr. Maliki, who is being burdened with an impossible political timetable that Washington has convinced itself will bring peace in Iraq. Those closer to the fire though understand that it will only conflagrate the flames.
Washington wants a full reversal of de-Baathification, even to the point of bringing back to their jobs the worst of Saddam's torturers and thugs. The thinking is that these mass murderers — many of whom found work with Al Qaeda and the Islamic Army — will stop killing American soldiers if they can get back to the habit of taking out their evil on Iraqis. This will not fly in Baghdad, and there's nothing that Mr. Maliki can do when someone of Ayatollah Ali Sistani's stature has signaled his opposition to this particular revision of the Iraqi Constitution — in which de-Baathification is enshrined.
The political process is maturing in Iraq according to its own pace, giving Mr. Maliki and the state he heads the confidence to battle the terrorists more determinedly and effectively.
Read the whole thing here.