The WaPo “Is the Iraq War Lost?” round-up makes interesting reading. But I’m not sure we have a general consensus on what victory would look like, which leaves the discussion somewhat impoverished. Consider Nathaniel Fick’s “Yes, but” answer:
We can’t achieve our original objectives. But we still have compelling interests in denying a haven to al-Qaeda, averting genocide in Iraq and not breaking the Army and Marine ground forces. We have to draw down, but we cannot withdraw.
Our main “original objective” — taking out Saddam Hussein’s regime — has already been achieved. Perhaps Fick is saying we can’t leave behind a self-sustaining democracy. But I think the Kurds, at least, already have just that. If we keep a relatively small number of troops in Iraq indefinitely to enforce a partition and prevent a bloodbath, is that a loss? That is, more or less, how the Korean War ended (I know, it never “ended” in the technical sense, but you get my point). Did we lose Korea?