This article has some notions about the Iraq project that is thought provoking. The author must have been talking to buffpilot.
In summary, the author stresses several main ideas.
1. The success of the surge, such as it is, relies totally on Mehdi’s cease fire in relation to toning down the Badre influence in the growing national government (ends in February unless renewed), and the continued success of the Sunni alliance, one hundred leaders having been assinated to date and increasing.
2. Despite the PR of the administration and candidates, spending has been maintained or increased to build not only a fortress embassy, but what is to be eventually the largest airport in the world with a centralized US command center for the whole of Iraq. Even with a drawdown of troops on the ground, the other part of the plan is domination via air and water. We are there to stay in the country, not just in neighboring countries.
2. There is a concerted effort to keep immunity for all ‘foriegn’ employees under contract, totaling maybe over 300,000 personnel, to be free from local controls of any kind. (This is a 1.3% of the population remaining in Iraq, like having 3 million personnel immune to national level prosecution in the US.) Such personnel will operate the facilities and supports and whatever other operations remain.
It seems to me even if the drawdown includes the five brigades, the PR campaign this election is working to keep Iraq on page 5, so the other 180,000 personel are not talked about, nor the continuing building, nor Maliki ignoring the parliament and instituting ‘illegal’ agreements. You know, eggs and omellettes.
On the other hand, the next president could change the mission and have Patreaus do other planning as well with a different mission. It would still be a huge behemeth to deal with. To deal with the war machine here would probably be harder.