Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, is a senior reporter for The Washington Independent.

Recent Articles

WireTAP: A Dialogue about The Wire (Episodes 1-3)

Prospect writers discuss the fifth season of the critically acclaimed HBO series.

The fifth and final season of HBO's groundbreaking drama, The Wire, is upon us. Every three episodes, we'll bring you a discussion of the series between TAP Online writers. This week, Spencer Ackerman kicks off our dialogue about episodes one, two, and three. --The Editors

Spencer Ackerman:
Friends, we find ourselves at a point of crisis. The Iraq war nears its fifth anniversary. The global economy is somewhere between freak-out and meltdown. The Democratic presidential nomination fight is getting brutal. And The Wire -- the only TV show that matters, the salve that makes it all bearable -- sucks now, at least in the popular imagination.

Petraeus '12

General David Petraeus has a sterling reputation, the love of the press, and the adoration of the GOP. Don't be surprised if a Democratic presidential win in '08 starts an effort to recruit Petraeus as the Republican candidate in '12.

The world -- at least the world of the U.S. military -- is General David Petraeus' oyster. Nearly a year after Petraeus assumed command of Multinational Force-Iraq, as the military command in Baghdad is known, violence is ebbing back up, sectarian reconciliation remains deadlocked, and the surge is coming to an end.

The Coming Fight for Northern Iraq

With just days left before the deadline for the Article 140 referendum on who will control northern Iraq, both Kurds and Sunnis are pledging violence over the outcome.

Mosul was fairly calm earlier this year as winter gave way to spring. Some nights at Forward Operating Base Marez, the major U.S. garrison in the multiethnic northern Iraqi city, explosions would boom as incoming fire missed its target. But veteran officers, who remembered when Mosul briefly fell to the insurgency in late 2004, celebrated what passed for Iraqi tranquility. The city's central roundabouts featured something rare to see in Baghdad during that time: people milling about, selling produce, cut-rate electronics, and mountains of jeans on flatbeds and donkey carts.

Exporting the Anbar Awakening

Bush's latest ploy in the war on terror is to recycle tactics from Iraq in Pakistan. But it's unlikely that the strategy of allying with tribal figures against al-Qaeda will work in Pakistan -- and it's unclear whether it worked in Iraq.

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier at a post in outskirt of Mingora, the main town of Pakistan district Swat bordering Afghanistan on Monday, Nov. 26, 2007. (AP Photo/Mohammad Iqbal)

Imagine the Bush administration's war cabinet as a drunken gambler during a moment of sobriety-inducing panic. The fortune he thought he accumulated has proven illusory, and most of the money he brought to the casino is gone. His throat is dry and his head is pounding. The display of his cell phone shows numerous missed calls -- all from his wife, who begged him not to indulge his worst habits, and now pleads with him to come home. Three facts concentrate his addled mind: he is coated in shame, he is still in the casino, and he has a few dollars more.

The Problem with Militias

Concerned Local Citizens groups represent the United States' first attempt at actually creating Iraqi militias, and U.S. officials are enthusiastic about the effort. Few seem to have noticed the potential pitfalls.

Everywhere you go in Iraq, there's victory. The commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, told reporters last Wednesday that he had wiped al-Qaeda in Iraq out of the city. Stability in Iraq is "within sight, but not yet within touch," he said. And while categorical statements about progress have come back to haunt U.S. officials, commanders are evincing more certainty about the possibilities of success than they would ever have dared prior to Gen. David Petraeus' September testimony.

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