As Boot notes northern Iraq now needs the same kind of security effort that there has been in Baghdad in the past year. With 61 percent of the violence coming from this region, its problems need to be dealt with before it endangers progress in the rest of Iraq. There also needs to be progress nationwide on reconstruction and making the government work for all its citizens not just its supporters.
All of these things are possible as the turnaround in Baghdad has demonstrated: a year ago eight percent of the capital was under control, now 75 percent is. But they will take time. Encouragingly, President Bush is easing back on the speed of troop withdrawals. But the next president needs to realise that it is not realistic to imagine that US forces can withdraw completely from Iraq in the next decade. To do so, would be to guarantee the failure of the mission which America is now engaged in. One can debate whether America should ever have embarked on it in the first place but that doesn’t mean that the consequences of failure should be ignored.