Bush and his band of backers won't admit that -- but their strategy is already defined by the specter of American defeat.
By Peter GalbraithOn May 30, the Coalition held a ceremony in the Kurdistan town of Erbil to mark its handover of security in Iraq's three Kurdish provinces from the Coalition to the Iraqi government. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the U.S. commander for northern Iraq, praised the Iraqi government for overseeing all aspects of the handover. And he drew attention to the "benchmark" now achieved: With the handover, he said, Iraqis now controlled security in seven of Iraq's 18 provinces.
In fact, nothing was handed over. The only Coalition force in Kurdistan is the peshmerga, a disciplined army that fought alongside the Americans in the 2003 campaign to oust Saddam Hussein; it is loyal to the Kurdistan government in Erbil. The peshmerga provided security in the three Kurdish provinces before the handover and after. The Iraqi army has not been on Kurdistan's territory since 1996 and is effectively prohibited from being there. Nor did the Iraqi flag fly at the ceremony. It is banned in Kurdistan.