Juan Cole's sobering take on what the next few years will probably bring is well worth digesting. Money quote:

As for Iraq itself, the best hope for the Dems may be that Gen. Petraeus actually succeeds, over the next year, in significantly reducing ethnic tensions. It is a slim reed to hold onto, as they recognize.

But from the moment Bush went into Iraq, Americans were screwed. And that includes the Democratic Party, which is being set up to take the fall.

I'm a severe skeptic on the likelihood of anything that looks like success in Iraq. But I don't think career public servants such as Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus are acting as partisan Republicans in their Iraq efforts. I think they both are sincere, experienced men attempting to retrieve what they can for America from Bush's catastrophe. They may as well try, since the Democrats can't over-rule Bush and get the troops out, anyway. If the troops are there, they may as well at least be deployed intelligently, which is what Gen. Petraeus is doing. I wish them well in their Herculean labors. Because if they fail, I have a sinking feeling that we are all going down with them, including the next Democratic president. And their success is a long shot.

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