James Forsyth

Essential viewing on Iraq

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This episode of Charlie Rose with John Burns and Dexter Filkins of The New York Times (full video below) is by far the most informative thing I’ve seen on the Petraeus and Crocker testimony and the whole state of the war in Iraq. Both Burns and Filkins stress that things are precarious but equally they are both sure that things are improving in Iraq and there is a real possibility of a positive outcome although there is a long way to go—as Filkins puts it, it is ‘the bottom of the third innings’ in a nine innings game.

Notably, Burns sees the recent events in Basra as a net positive despite the defections and Prime Minister Maliki’s tactical ineptitude: “you had an Iraqi prime minister who, on his own initiative, decided to take the fight -- and remember, the Iraqi prime minister from a Shiite religious party, who -- taking the fight against Shiite militias in the streets of Basra. And I would say balancing those two things, that the latter might be the more important, because I think you`d agree, a year, a year-and-a-half ago, we would have never have anticipated Maliki doing anything quite so ambitious” 

Most encouraging, though, is their view on what is happening to al Qaeda in Iraq. Jon Burn's view is that, “there`s a real possibility now that their Waterloo will be coming to Iraq. Whatever else happens in Iraq.”

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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