The word "reconciliation" has become a synonym for success in Iraq. It was enshrined as the centerpiece of the 18 benchmarks imposed on the Iraqi government by domestic American political pressures, presumably to have some measure of success or failure in an unpopular conflict.
The concept as enunciated in the troop surge was that the calming of Baghdad would give the Iraqi politicians time to work out the differences between the various sectarian demands. The press and popular opinion picked up on this, and as the statistics began to illuminate a downward trend in violence, the issue of reconciliation became the burning issue. Unfortunately, it was never a realistic requirement and oblivious not only to the realities of 2007 Iraq but also its tortured history.
These benchmarks spawned numbers of studies, reports, and political commentary that often quoted and replicated each other. The harmonic effects they produced reinforced the conventional wisdom that it was simply a failure on the part of the Iraqi government, and specifically its Shia base, represented by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to get the political process moving.