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Well reasoned, and worth continuing if for no other reason than the reasons WHY this lull in the fighting are happening have implications for HOW they can or can't be continued.

My guesses would include:

1. After about three years taking the insurgency seriously MNF-I has moved out of the FOBs and into the populace. This suggests that they've finally begun to develop some reliable intel sources. The has allowed it to pick off insurgents BEFORE they attack, i.e. MNF-I is playing offense rather than defense. The American public is blissfully (or willfully) ignorant that this probably includes some sort of loathesome Algeria or Phoenix-type assassination program, but I'm not sure it'd make a difference: they're only wogs, so, whatever.

2. Much of the present quiet may well reflect an Iraqi understanding that the foreigners' time in country is being talked up as limited. The factions have found that the level of violence - particularly tac air - they receive in return for a couple of dead GIs isn't worth it. And if the Yankees are going home in a year or two, why die today killing gringos when you can wait and die killing the people you'd rather kill (your old enemies the Shia/Sunni/Kurd/goatherders from the rival twn next door) in a fight that my bring you power and all the Middle Eastern goodies that go with power.

3. It also may reflect a lot of cans that have been kicked down the rad, like Kirkuk and the "regional confederations" stuff. I still think that there's gonna be a day of reckoning when an IA maneuver element is ordered into the north and the peshmerga is ordered to stop it. Or when the Sunni muj realize that the Shia government isn't going to take them as soldiers and instead is offering them jobs s garbagemen or nothing.

My utimate guess is that Iraq will become Pakistan; a volitile, unstable "democracy" that will eventually become a strongman state after a series of military coups. But we'll see...

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