There's a great articlein today's Washington Post about the brainy bunch General David Petraeus has assembled to find a successful way forward in Iraq. It is truly an impressive group--all its members are combat-tested veterans of Iraq who also have done good work in political science, international relations, anthropology and history.
I think it's a great idea to bring on board guys who have done a lot of reading and thinking. But I wonder if they will be able to create an Iraqi nationality where none presently exists. This is the key, because without that, there IS no national Iraqi army, only an army comprised of Shiites who will likely only throw themselves into fighting against Sunnis, not their own sectarian extremists. And without an Iraqi nationality, there IS no Iraqi national government, only a Shiite government unacceptable to Sunni residents. This is a task that eluded Tito in Yugoslavia, probably the individual with the best chance of forging a nationality out of disparate groups since he successfully led Serbs, Croats and Slovenes through the crucible of World War II.
Reading a lot of books and plotting a successful counterinsurgency strategy can't hurt, probably, but a creating a common destiny and bonds of national unity in a shattered state will likely be beyond Petraeus and the Ph.Ds, too.