BEYOND REPAIR?….Col. Pete Devlin, a man who has “the reputation of being one of the Marine Corps’ best intelligence officers,” has concluded in a secret assessment that the situation in Iraq’s Anbar province is hopelessly lost:

One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, “We haven’t been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically ? and that’s where wars are won and lost.”

….Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province’s most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar.

….Over the past three weeks, Devlin’s paper has been widely disseminated in military and intelligence circles. It is provoking intense debate over the key finding that in Anbar, the U.S. effort to clear and hold major cities and the upper Euphrates valley has failed.

In a sense, I’m not sure this is anything new. Anbar has been in chaos since the end of the war, and has been on the edge of being hopelessly lost ever since George Bush dithered and dallied over his response to the 2004 uprising in Fallujah. But a report like this is still ominous since it pretty clearly indicates that as bad as things were two years ago, they’re even worse now. And next year? Don’t ask.

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