James Forsyth

Iraq in comparative perspective

Iraq in comparative perspective
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Fred Kagan, one of the architects of the surge, sets out how he thinks we should measure progress in Iraq in the latest Weekly Standard. The whole piece is worth reading but this point jumped out at me:

“Much has been made of the inadequacy of the Iraqi Security Forces' performance in Basra. If the Pakistani army had performed half as well in its efforts to clear al Qaeda out of the tribal areas, we would be cheering. Instead, Pakistani soldiers surrendered to al Qaeda by the hundreds, and Islamabad shut the operation down; it is now apparently on the verge of a deal with the terrorist leader who killed Benazir Bhutto. Iraqi Security Forces who underperformed were fired and replaced, and operations in Basra and elsewhere continue.”

Now, saying that things are worse in Pakistan—a problem that we are not paying anywhere near enough attention to—doesn’t make things better in Iraq. But it does show that much of the talk about Iraq being a hopeless case is completely overblown. Indeed, since January 2007 there has been considerably more progress made in Iraq than in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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