Cole in Salon.com
My article, “Saving Iraq: Mission Impossible,” is out in Salon.com.
‘ Hopes for a breakthrough hinge on the assumption that al-Maliki will be able to act more decisively than his failed predecessor, Ibrahim Jaffari, in crucial areas: putting together a government acceptable to all the parties, restoring a state monopoly on the use of force (i.e., disbanding militias), preventing sectarian killings, restoring basic services, and resolving the explosive question of federalism. Al-Maliki seems more aware than Jaffari of the urgency of these problems. But the painful fact is that they are almost certainly beyond his ability to solve.
Despite the hype that will attend the formation of a new government, whenever it finally comes about, there is little prospect that it will make a decisive difference. Al-Maliki seems doomed to preside over a lot of violence and chaos, and can only hope to make a difference at the margins. And the increasing hostility of the Shiites in the south to the Anglo-American troop presence will put the question of when they are leaving on the new parliament’s docket. ‘