For at least three years, I have been calling attention in comments, and in emails to people who do not have comment sections, that the US is, and has been from the outset, engaged in a policy of permanent occupation in Iraq. This has been clear since the decision was made to build "enduring bases" in Iraq.
As time has past, all the other pretexts have been stripped away by events, and we are left, at this point with nothing more nor less than permanent occupation in support of a puppet government. I have despaired of anybody, in the MSM or in the blogosphere writing clearly about this--or about the severe difficulty involved in ending the US involvement in the occupation because of Iraq's status as a failed state with no national defense capability, surrounded by four states that have reason to have designs on its territory, and who are, in some ways natural enemies.
This is complicated further by the fact that one of those states, Turkey, is a member of NATO, and has legitimate concerns over border security. The positions taken by democratic candidates--the wiggle room in their detailed statements about their plans for Iraq--make it clear that they understand these difficulties, but fear saying so out loud, because of the enormous unpopularity of this catastrophic occupation.
The blathering from the beltway pundits, spouting the FU justification of the week also impedes serious discussion of what is to be done, and is frequently characterized by arm waving that presumes that the US is both sovereign and if not omnipotent, effectively able to impose conditions, like a tripartite division, or the dissolution of the current government or alliance with "good" ex-Baathists. But there is very little written that discusses the reality of the strategic situation.
Last night, over at FDL, swopa outlined these issues in the context of parsing democratic presidential candidates' statements. He describes why these issues pose difficulties for those who want to end the occupation, and what realistically we have to worry about. The US will not be able to withdraw substantial forces without facing these issues, and making clear decisions about what the least horrific outcome is, and how it can be pursued.
This is a debate that is long overdue. I urge people to read that post.