A Pretty Succinct Analysis

Don't miss Fareed this week. Money quote:

The Democrats are having the hardest time with the new reality. Every candidate is committed to "ending the war" and bringing our troops back home. The trouble is, the war has largely ended, and precisely because our troops are in the middle of it.

The surge has brought neither victory nor defeat. It has brought about a temporary freezing of the stalemated civil war. We have surged 160,000 troops to put the war on "pause." Money quote:

The national reconciliation that Iraqi politicians promised has not occurred. Some movement has taken place on sharing oil revenue but on almost nothing else. The complicated new law on de-Baathification has been, in the words of a senior Iraqi official, "a big mess, perhaps worse than if we had done nothing." The non-Kurdish parts of the country remain utterly dysfunctional, and chaos and warlordism are growing in the south.

If we stay for McCain's hundred years, this might abate some. If we stayed for another ten, we might wear down the belligerent parties. So our options remain a little clearer but pretty much the same as last spring: ten months to get out or ten years to dig in further. So the question becomes: which of the candidates will either be able to get us out of there with the least trauma and the most national unity or which will be able to entrench us there with the most national unity for the next century? The answers are Obama and McCain. Clinton? I think she's too beholden to the politics of triangulation to pull troops out. She would get crucified by the right if she tries to withdraw. And her decisions are always largely driven by political calculation. She is a creature of the Rove-right: its hologrammed negative plate.

If the Clintons are re-elected, what are the odds we will still be occupying Iraq with over 100,000 troops by the end of their third term in 2012? Pretty high, I'd say. They simply don''t have the domestic leverage to do anything else. I actually think McCain is likelier to get us out of there. At least he could.