Anbar Province is, for all intent and purposes, now liberated from al-Qaeda. Yes, car and truck bombs can be snuck into any place and kill tens or hundreds of Muslims. But al-Qaeda is not wanted and will never rule Anbar - once host to the capitol of Bin Laden’s modern caliphate.
Besides the deliberate conflation of Bin Laden's Afghanistan/N. Pakistan trans-Muslim version of Al-Quaeda, and Zarquawiri's Salafist Sunni only brand of Al-Quaeda, this celebratory piece is arguing that it took the United States a couple thousand deaths, a hundred billion dollars and four years to re-establish a pre-war status quo. And in order to do this, by empowering other local armed groups, we are destroying any semblence of strategic progress. Brian Beutler illustrates the problem:
A lot of things are impossible on a practical level in Iraq. But some things aren't even possible hypothetically. For instance, right now we are trying to both extend the reach of the Maliki government as far as possible across the country and also to support Sunnis in their sectarian skirmishes against both Shiites and other Sunnis wherever an alliance is possible. Not surprisingly, these two objectives are almost definitionally at odds with each other. We're foolish to even try to promote both a factionalist and a federalist effort at the same time, but we're especially foolish when that means trying to bring a Shiite-dominated government into power over a land peppered with U.S.-supported Sunni tribal regions.
Here the possible tactical success is destroying the chance of greater strategic success, and this is trumpeted as a good thing. I'm confused.