by Patrick Appel

Tom Ricks remains pessimistic about Iraq:

The Iraqi mess is far from over, and I don't think the Americans have extricated themselves. The best we may have done is reduce the American presence sufficiently to let natural political forces begin to work and Iraqi politicians to break through the current stalemate. This is likely to be a violent process.

He's more upbeat on Afghanistan:

In Afghanistan we do have a couple of aces in the hole. The biggest one is that the Afghan people have lived under Islamic extremism and fundamentally they don’t want it to come back.

The problem in Iraq is none of the basic political questions in the country have been solved. This is one reason we’ve gone so many months now without the formation of an Iraqi government.

But the basic question is how are these three major groups in Iraq going to get along?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.