KAPLAN’S WAR….Has Lawrence Kaplan given up on the war in Iraq? It sure sounds like it based on the following blog post that he wrote on Monday:

Did the Army make a mistake when it banished “counterinsurgency” from the lexicon of military affairs? Absolutely. Does it matter in Iraq? Probably not….Would more U.S. troops alter Iraq’s homicidal dynamic? Not really, given that, on the question of sectarian rage, America is now largely beside the point. True, U.S. troops can be ? and have been ? a vital buffer between Iraq’s warring sects. But they cannot reprogram their coarsened and brittle cultures. Even if America had arrived in Iraq with a detailed post-war plan, twice the number of troops, and all the counterinsurgency expertise in the world, my guess is that we would have found ourselves in exactly the same spot. The Iraqis, after all, still would have had the final say.

Kaplan’s post was prompted by an atrocity story that sounds frankly unlikely to me, but that hardly matters. He’s been in Iraq plenty of times, after all, and has a strong sense of how things are going on the ground.

At the same time, his Monday post doesn’t really gibe with “Letting Go,” his cover story in the current issue of the New Republic. In that piece, he seems mostly disgusted with the apparent desire of both President Bush and the Pentagon brass to leave Iraq before the job is done.

So which is it: disgust at pulling out too soon, or acknowledgment that there’s nothing we can do to stop Iraq from spiraling into civil war ? and probably never was? Or, paradoxically, both? I can’t tell. Perhaps he’ll elucidate further in a followup.

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