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. My impression is that even as individual efforts these would both sink anyhow. But it's amazing that, with all of the resources the administration has handed over to the war effort, we're still approaching problems in such a way that even incremental plans are more likely to fail than they ought to be.