Look at this screenshot from the Yahoo front page, where four simultaneous headlines speak volumes about which groups seek which outcomes in Iraq.
The first is "Iraq warns against early US withdrawal", which makes sense, given that there will be a massive civil war in the event of a US withdrawal, leading to the possibility of a genocide greater than the one that resulted from the US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1973.
The second states that Barack Obama, who aspires to become President of the United States, believes preventing genocide is not enough of a reason to remain in Iraq.
The third headline is about Kosovo, which is unrelated to Iraq, except that it is a country that a Democratic President sent troops to in order to prevent ethnic cleansing, and where we still have troops after 10 years.
The fourth headline is similar to the first, except that it is US generals pleading for more time in Iraq, than the Iraqis themselves. Thus, the US generals and Iraqi government appear to both want the US to maintain troops for longer.
Whether the loss of 80 US troops a month for the next 12, 24, or 120 months in order to prevent the death of 2-3 million Iraqis is an acceptable exchange or otherwise is an individual decision, and perhaps not an easy one.
Rather, the following points reveal themselves through each of the headlines :
1) Obama would not have said what he did if it were not an opinion held by a sizable percentage of Americans, perhaps even a majority. I would agree that it is not America's job to sacrifice our own troops to prevent uncivilized cultures from defaulting to their traditional behaviors. More than that, though, the fact that he is suggesting exactly the opposite of what both the Iraqi government and US generals want should be noted. Thus, the hidden message here is that war supporters must articulate that the prevention of genocide is not the only reason to remain in Iraq, and that there are reasons to continue that are beneficial to American interests. Obama has just given war supporters a clue on how to focus their words to make their case.
2) Why do we still have troops in Kosovo after 10 years? Or in Germany and Japan for 62 years and South Korea for 54 years. Granted, they are not involved in active combat, but should we not withdraw troops first from where they have been the longest? Those advocating withdrawal should have very detailed answers to this question.
3) Where are those who say we should "listen to the generals"? Why not listen to them now? What, exactly, determines when a general's opinion matters and when it does not?
Nonetheless, as predicted in May 2006, victory in Iraq is on track to be achieved in 2008. I won't repeat points I have made before, except provide an update that the quantifiable metrics are continuing to trend favorably, and that is what supercedes all else in laying the foundations to shape the long-term judgment of history.