"Iraq also is entering a crucial year. National elections in January could determine whether Iraq moves away from the sectarian divisions that triggered a virtual civil war in 2006 and whether its fledgling democratic system survives or gives way to a new authoritarianism. In the seven months after the election, the United States is due to reduce its forces by more than 60 percent. If the country is not stable, al-Qaeda and Iraq's neighbors will be quick to exploit the vacuum.
The question is whether the Obama administration is paying more attention than the rest of the country. Some of its own supporters are worried: Kenneth Pollack, an expert at the Brookings Institution, says that the administration is not using its leverage with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on matters crucial to the success of the elections. One is whether Iraq will allow voting for its parliament by district; many of its parties favor a system of national slates that could reinforce sectarian divisions. Another is whether Mr. Maliki will promote the staging of a referendum on the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. Such a vote could help the prime minister win reelection — and force a precipitous American withdrawal." Washpost
Everything I have heard about the referendum isssue indicates that there will be such a referendum. The outcome of that vote seems certain. In the Kurdish north the referendum will not ask for our withdrawal. Everywhere else it will do so and thus will end the continuing neocon fantasy about Iraq.
We should accelerate logistical planning for withdrawal and prepare to deal diplomatically with the Iraq that we have created.
The current neocon whining about Iraq repeats the forty year old whine about Vietnam. In those days it was said that the power and influence of the United States would stand or fall on the issue of victory or defeat in Southeast Asia. That was not true then and it is not true now. This is mere rationalization by those who yearn for a unipolar world.
The United States must look to its economy, and not continue to pursue foreign adventure. Leave the takfiri jihadis to the tender mercies of those who are good at dealing with people like them and look to the economy!!! pl