What if the Iraqis believe they can run their own country? This nightmare scenario for the neocons requires a fierce pivot away from recent claims of success in Iraq:

With Iraqi troops performing better recently in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki may be starting to think that he doesn't need the Americans after all. Maybe the Iraqis are ready to go it alone. The U.S. high command inadvertently has encouraged this illusion by stressing Iraqi contributions in its public pronouncements while downplaying the role Americans still play. In reality, while Iraqi troops are becoming much more capable, they still rely on U.S. assistance for key "enablers" such as logistics, surveillance, communications and air support. Without that help, which is coordinated by U.S. advisors embedded with Iraqi units, Iraqi security forces -- no matter how brave and dedicated -- would be hard put to operate successfully against such hardened terrorists as Al Qaeda and the extremist Shiite factions known as "special groups." American troops also serve a vital function as a buffer between sectarian groups still suspicious of one another.

So we are reaching a point at which the Iraqis may decide to pre-empt Bush and ask us to leave. If they do it while thanking us for the success, things could get very awkward for those trying to set up a permanent neo-empire in the Arab Middle East.

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