We've got two new assessments on the state of affairs in Iraq: The quarterly report on "stability and security" the Pentagon just provided to Congress and the Op-Ed piece that Sen. Joe Lieberman has just written for the Wall Street Journal.
Can you guess which one provides a rosier outlook?
Lieberman: Gen. Petraeus and other U.S. officials in Iraq emphasize that it is still too soon to draw hard judgments about the success of our new security strategy -- but during my visit I saw hopeful signs of progress.
The Pentagon: On January 10, 2007, the president announced the New Way Forward ... It is too soon to assess results.
Lieberman: Some argue that the new strategy is failing because, despite gains in Baghdad and Anbar, violence has increased elsewhere in the country, such as Diyala province. This gets things backwards: Our troops have succeeded in improving security conditions in precisely those parts of Iraq where the "surge" has focused. Al-Qaida has shifted its operations to places like Diyala in large measure because we have made progress in pushing them out of Anbar and Baghdad.
The Pentagon: The overall level of violence in Iraq this quarter remained similar to the previous reporting period but shifted location. Insurgents and extremists are unable to operate as freely in Baghdad because of [the Baghdad security plan] and in Anbar Province because of growing tribal opposition to [al-Qaida in Iraq]. Accordingly, many insurgents and extremists have moved operations to Diyala, Ninewa, and the outlying areas of Baghdad Province.
Lieberman: In Baghdad, U.S. forces have cut in half the number of Iraqi deaths from sectarian violence since the surge began in February.
The Pentagon: Early indications are that sectarian killings have declined (albeit possibly temporarily) in Baghdad ... Although sectarian-motivated Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence has declined in Baghdad, violence against Coalition and Iraqi security forces remained consistent with previous levels.
As McClatchy Newspapers reports, the drop in the number of sectarian killings in Baghdad was indeed "temporary." Since the Pentagon finished work on its quarterly report, U.S. officials acknowledge that the rate of sectarian murders in Baghdad has increased. By McClatchy's count, there was a 70 percent increase in sectarian murders in Baghdad from April to May.