Fareed Zakaria writes in the latest issue:
From 2003 to 2005 the war in Iraq was defined by an insurgency. After the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra in February 2006, it became largely a sectarian conflict. Now the dominant feature of the war is the proliferation of local ceasefires across the country.
As he continues:
American forces in Iraq have done superbly but the violence has not ended because they won great military victories. Instead, the adversary —the Sunnis—switched sides. Instead of shooting Americans they are now allied with them.
So far I concur with what he's saying (if you want to know).
But when he makes this case:
This realignment, however, has been directed at the United States and not the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. Petraeus has been trying to integrate these "Concerned Local Citizens"—the military's wonderful euphemism for Sunni militias—within the Iraqi police and security forces, so they can be paid by the central government and develop a new relationship with Shiites. But both sides remain extremely wary. The Shiites suspect the former insurgents' motives; the Sunnis say that jobs and weapons are being withheld by the government. As of now, the United States Army is the organizer, financier, guarantor and enforcer of the peace.
Iraq remains deeply divided. The national reconciliation that Iraqi politicians promised has not occurred. Some movement has taken place on sharing oil revenue but on almost nothing else. The complicated new law on de-Baathification has been, in the words of a senior Iraqi official, "a big mess, perhaps worse than if we had done nothing." The non-Kurdish parts of the country remain utterly dysfunctional, and chaos and warlordism are growing in the south. Of the 2.5 million Iraqis who have fled the country, a trickle—a few thousand—have returned home.
I think he underestimates the Iraqis.
And then here I think he overestimates the role the "international community" can play:
The most intelligent strategy for the United States now is a combined political and military one. If we are to engage in peacekeeping, the operation needs to be internationally recognized, sanctioned and supported—as it was in Bosnia. We should call an international conference on Iraq and get the support of other countries—crucially Iraq's neighbors—for this new mission. There should then be a joint international push to get the Iraqis to make the kinds of political deals that will turn the ceasefires into lasting peace. Over the next year if the violence continues to decline, countries like India, Poland and South Africa could be persuaded to relieve American troops. With sustained and focused efforts, over time, American forces could draw down substantially. The mission could then become what it was always billed as, a genuinely international effort to assist the Iraqi people in founding a new nation.The Sunnis came around because Al Qaeda was destroying their country not to mention destroying their honor and their faith. The requirement for foreign troops diminishes by the day. The signs are everywhere. You just have start taking note of all the good news.