It's time to blow this taco stand.
We've done everything that we can for Iraq. There's a point in a military operation where you have to ask the questions : "What will change if we stay?" and "What will change if we leave?".
If the answer to both questions is "Nothing" then the operation has reached it's null point.
I supported this invasion and I still think that it has been a worthwhile mission on our part. The way I see it we've had all the success that we're going to. Anything more relies on the Iraqi people and they've demonstrated that they're not willing to step up and function as a society. They've regressed into a tribal state and it's like balancing a marble on a two by four to keep any kind of peace in that country. I know Al Qaeda's there, I know that they have tax-collectors and torture shops set up in various towns, but the locals know where they are and they're not telling our forces where they're located. I know Iran is asserting itself, but I think Iran is making a mistake that it will pay for in the future and it will have nothing to do with us.
Hand it over to Special Forces and the Air Force.
If all we need to do is train the Iraqi Army then we need to hand this task over to Special Forces. Army SF guys are the best at this task anyway as it is part of their job as is counter-insurgency. If the only forces left in Iraq are the most qualified to deal with the problems as they are now then it puts the US and Iraq in the best situation. What is need isn't a complete with drawl but a visibly smaller footprint, a draw-down to a smaller force of Special Operators and a Quick Reaction force of Rangers and/or armored Cav should do the trick. Part of the problem now is that it sucks to be an Iraqi right now and every time they see a tank, helicopter or convoy they find an easy target for their anger. It doesn't matter if the anger is justified or not, we're the visible factor and we're foreigners so we're easy targets. If we draw down to a few forces, who are based out in the desert, then our presence will no longer be as obvious and Iraqis will look elsewhere for solutions. Iraqis can be clever when they want to be and our large numbers there allow them to be lazy about their own situation. If they don't see us on the corner any more and they realize that their problems are now THEIR PROBLEM then we will get progress in that country.
Here's the bad news...
We're going to still have forces in the Persian Gulf even after we leave Iraq, just as we have since 1979. Iran is still a problem and the situation that we'll be leaving in Iraq will require attention from time to time (yes, we might even have to go back in at some point). A draw-down frees up manpower for Afghanistan and takes pressure off of the National Guard and reserves.
We've done a lot of good in Iraq. Our forces have much to be proud of and in the end, taking Saddam Hussein out of the picture has made this whole expedition worthwhile. Our soldiers have prevailed in spite of some lousy leadership at the Pentagon and have succeeded in what should have been impossible missions. It's just that aside from the Kurds, there's nobody in Iraq left worth dying for. Turning the situation over to a small, elite force gives the bad guys there fewer targets to hit, and it will allow us to continue the mission in a way that will make that has the most promise for all involved. This plan would allow the President to "Stay the course" and it would also allow the military to take a breather and it gives the Democrats news images of soldiers coming home. Everybody wins.
Wasn't that the idea to begin with?