I think his current piece (sub required) is pretty good, with the major caveat that the thesis and title, “Why Iraq Has No Army” is over-stated and never really proven. We are steadily handing over territory to Iraqi units, something Fallows doesn’t acknowledge. But his analysis of the difficulties we have had building an Iraqi army rings true to me. It comes down to two factors that conservatives especially should appreciate–culture and institutions. It is difficult to overcome the former and difficult to create the latter. I also think he’s right that the administration even now isn’t approaching Iraq with the requisite urgency. It is still the golden hour in Iraq when we have a chance to influence the outcome for the better, but you don’t get the sense that the administration is throwing all it has at the problem.
To succeed in training an Iraqi army Fallows argues that key American personnel will need to stay in Iraq on longer tours, that we will need more interpreters, and that we will have to provide logistical and other support to Iraqi units for the long term. Fallows’ tone suggests that this kind of commitment is impossible, but it is quite doable. I think the Bush administration should take some of this to heart and try to take advantage of the political moment to get everything it needs to build on and accelerate its current training program. Bush should have Joe Biden and Barack Obama into the Oval Office, hail them for their extraordinary wisdom in saying that we should train Iraqi security units (never mind that we have been trying to do it all along), and invite them to introduce the Biden-Obama bill to provide even more resources for the effort.
Anyway, if you ignore the unnecessary sense of doom that pervades the Fallows piece, it is well worth a read.