Hanson’s writing has always been noble and eloquent, but sometimes I’ve wondered about its realism. Now his expectations seem more than a bit chastened. Our goal is now stable Shiite dominance, and the Iraqis are going to have to straighten up fast to benefit from the very substantial gains made recently by our courageous and idealistic but very strained and overextended forces. We have to hope that the Shiites will do what Hanson says they must do. The good news is that there’s real evidence of progress on both the military and political fronts and reason to hope that our civilizing mission might succeed well enough. The bad news is that it might not, and there are limits to what we can or will do.
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