The Washington Post asks whether the Iraq war is lost.
The answers by various people interviewed pretty much divide on partisan lines. Fred Kagan of the AEI says no, but it's going to be a long hard slog. Unheard is his sigh of relief that it won't be him or his privileged chickenhawk friends taking that slog and the IED shrapnel that comes with it.
Victor Davis Hanson says not yet, because American wars are lost in the mind. This is strictly true. It's not likely that America will ever be defeated in a stand up war of logistics and heavy firepower. If America is willing to put up the bodies and the cash, it will generally win any war it cares to fight. On the other hand, it may also become not-America in the process.
In Iraq, for instance, the U.S. is not willing to actually put up the several trillion dollars it would take to actually undo the damage it has done in Iraq as well as build up the infrastructure to a level where the Iraqis will consider U.S. occupation better than self-rule. At the same time, the U.S. is not willing to put half a million to a million riflemen on the ground (not including the administrative and logistical troops to support that many riflemen). Nor is the U.S. willing to accept the inevitable casualties that come with minimizing civilian deaths in Iraq.
In all of the above, what would be necessary would be for the U.S. to conduct the war in Iraq for the good of the Iraqis. Even if GW Bush and team of evil weren't leading the U.S. government, the U.S. government is incapable of any such consideration. They don't even have a lot of consideration for the american soldiers in Iraq. They don't even have the consideration to tell the truth when a national icon (Pat Tillman) is killed by friendly fire. Instead they out-and-out lie to his family and the nation.
It would still be possible to "win", by killing off perhaps 25% of the Iraqi citizens. At some point, enough barbarity will completely cow the citizens being tortured and killed. On the other hand, I don't know any Iraqis. It might take killing off 75% of the Iraqis to win. And the rest of the Muslim world would be completely radicalized.
Unfortunately, for GW Bush and EVIL, they can't even carpet-nuke Iraq (and might as well spend some on Iran too). That would make the oil inaccessible and piss off some nearby allies. But U.S. allies are expendable, the problem is the oil would become inaccessible. Nuking just the cities would leave enough insurgents out in the towns and deserts that it would still be necessary to either send in riflemen to finish the job or use hundred-thousand-dollar smart bombs to kill off anyone still left alive. And then it would be difficult to convince any oilmen to work in a country where a shift of the wind could bring radioactive sand.
So, yes. Likely the war is lost. To win, it would be necessary to become completely altruistic (impossible, even U.S. AID has so many strings attached it's not worth accepting), or put down enough men to calm the country down or just kill them all. In the latter case the war for humanity would be lost. The Americans losing it first, and the rest of the world after, as America looks at itself and either collapses in horror, or decides to make the best of a bad situation and attack and invade anyone who has a lollipop the U.S. wants.
As it is, it's probably not even necessary for the U.S. to make Iran and Iraq a wasteland or even kill off 15-10% of the population (already accomplished in Iraq, although much of it not directly) to make the U.S. a target for terrorist attacks from islamists and fellow travelers. It's probably too late already though. The Islamists will attack America for the next hundred years because of the Iraq fiasco. I'm going off to the sidelines where there is peace.
To be clear, I advocate none of the above. I'm just looking at U.S. options and things that are likely to result. In fact, I advocate that the U.S. leave Iraq, take all military units larger than a company of embassy guards back to the U.S. and stay there. If an embassy can't be defended by a company of Marines, take the embassy out too, clearly the U.S. has done enough damage in that country to piss off the natives. Go home. Protect your borders, stop making things worse in the world.