There's good and bad in Thomas Ricks' Washington Post article on the contrast between Iraq-the-place and Iraq-the-issue but the conclusion is absurd:
Yet, with a new approach underway in Baghdad, the Washington debate is largely irrelevant to the concerns of the soldier on the ground, said the Army officer who recently returned from Baghdad. "All the talk about pullouts, votes and budgets really doesn't mean much to that 18-year-old with his body armor driving across Iraq worried about IEDs," he said, referring to roadside bombs. "For him, life consists of trying to survive for 365 days to get back home -- only to know he'll have to come back again."
Now, to be sure, most 18 year-olds don't care about congressional debates and no doubt 18 year-olds serving in a combat zone are even less inclined to become political junkies. But the Washington debate is hardly irrelevant to his concerns. He's "trying to survive for 365 days to get back home -- only to know he'll have to come back again." Whether or not he has to come back again is, however, exactly what's being debated. There's a lot of political posturing going on inside the Beltway, but it's not all posturing -- the actual policies that determine how many people go to Iraq and for how long get made here.