[Bush] seems to be persisting in one important error. At his news conference last week, the only concrete plan he outlined to move forward -- on a path out of Iraq -- was a better-functioning Iraqi army and police force. In this respect Bush is hardly alone. Many who criticize him on the right and left say that the training of Iraqi troops is happening too slowly, or that we need more American troops, or that we should flood the city of Baghdad with forces to stabilize it. But all these solutions are technocratic and military, while the problem in Iraq is fundamentally political. Until we fully recognize this, doing more of the same will accomplish little.
Initially the Sunnis thought they could use military power -- through the insurgency -- to get their way. Now many Shiites think they can use military power -- through the government's security services and militias -- to get their way. For our part, despite the denials, we believed that what we needed was more troops, Iraqi troops. Except that 260,000 Iraqi soldiers and police are "standing up" and it hasn't led to any significant withdrawal of Americans. The reality is that only an effective political bargain will bring about order. There needs to be a deal that gives all three communities strong incentives to cooperate rather than be spoilers.