New Pentagon report puts it a bit more politely than that but you don't really need to read very far between the lines. I still find it fairly astounding that the defense department can't seem to admit to itself that the very "Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq," namely "Sustained ethno-sectarian violence" just are a civil war. At the moment, it's lower intensity than some civil wars have been, and lower intensity than the Iraqi civil war probably will become at some point.

Prospect subscribers can see my most recent take on Iraq. A rough summary would be this. As of just a few months ago, I think it's possible that a smarter policy centered around some kind of framework for withdrawal combined with a push toward political compromise could have actually worked. Worked in the sense of having a decent chance of avoiding a giant bloodbath. But that moment has passed and one way or another, Iraq is almost certainly screwed. The only question is how long our troops will need to keep suffering because our political elites can't admit that.

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