I don’t see how it can happen with GW in charge, but let’s say he pulls out a victory in Iraq.
So what does victory look like? MY guess… best case scenario, at the end of another five or six years of fighting, our allies impose an Islamic theocracy on Iraq. (Or multiple Islamic theocracies of a few different flavors, as has happened in a number of regions in Afghanistan outside Kabhul.) Most of the population is too cowed to say anything and lives in fear. One region of the country is openly more-or-less allied with Iran, another looks something like Pakistan. And just like Pakistan, a very large percentage of the population is openly anti-American, with the remainder being at best indifferent to Americans. Also like Pakistan, the country continues to export instability to the rest of the region.
Its not an unreasonable assumption… the elements that have been gaining power are religious (Shiites like al Sadr, the Sunni sheikhs in al Anbar that are so conspicuously fighting Al Qaeda), and none are the kind of folks that wouldn’t happily slit the throat of any American if they thought they could get away with it.
Am I wrong? Is this outcome less likely than a flowering of a pro-Western democracy that leads to peace and prosperity throughout the Middle East? And if I’m not wrong… then what? Will such an outcome have been worth it? Will it be worse than the alternative that is likely if there is a pull-out? And where do we go from there?