Tom Ricks makes it. He argues that "the best way to deter a return to civil war is to find a way to keep 30,000 to 50,000 United States service members in Iraq for many years to come." His final paragraph:

As a longtime critic of the American invasion of Iraq, I am not happy about advocating a continued military presence there. Yet, to echo the counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, just because you invade a country stupidly doesn’t mean you should leave it stupidly. The best argument against keeping troops in Iraq is the one some American military officers make, which is that a civil war is inevitable, and that by staying all we are doing is postponing it. That may be so, but I don’t think it is worth gambling to find out.

I believe - and have said so for some time - that the US occupation will likely be in place as long as Iraq remains ungovernable. Which means the rest of my lifetime.The surge failed. The idea it succeeded in its critical criterion was and is untrue.

If Obama does not have the courage to withdraw regardless of the consequences, he will end up entrenching Bush's insane gamble, not ending it, as he was elected to do. If Obama increases troop levels in Afghanistan and extends Bush's timetable for leaving Iraq, why on earth did we support him? Those were McCain's policies. Why have elections if they are essentially meaningiless?

Occupations are the foreign equivalent of entitlement programs. They never end. Why should Americans be denied basic access to health insurance because the money is going to sustain 50,000 troops in Germany, for Pete's sake, or to tamp down sectarian conflicts that have existed for centuries in a country we had no troops in for all of US history until 2003?

When will this madness end? Do we really have to go completely bankrupt and be forced to withdraw from these anachronistic pretensions? Are seven years not enough?

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