The encouraging developments in those parts of Iraq not on the sectarian faultline - Kurdistan, some Sunni areas, like Anbar, a handful of Shiite population centers - are important to absorb. Even the Observer in London (the Guardian's sister-paper) has taken note. But it's equally important to realize what they tangibly mean. They mean that in mainly homogeneous regions, serious counter-insurgency tactics can work in creating more peaceful expectations and thereby peaceful communities. (Think what might have been done if we'd had this in place in 2003.)
I don't know that it would have made any real difference if we had started in 2003 because we never had the troop strength to really stop the violence between the factions in Iraq. The real bottom line here seems to be that if a place has a ethnically homogeneous population, there's not much violence, and the violence that does take place is resisted by the population.
So maybe the solution to the problems in Iraq are to realize that some folks are just destined to not get along, and to quit pretending that American-style democracy is a panacea. Iraq is an artificial nation just like Yugolavia was, and like like Yugoslavia, the solution to long-term stability is to divide the nation into three parts and secure the borders between them. That's much better than to maintain an effort to create a melting pot with elements that are explosive when mixed.
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