Francis Fukuyama thinks our options in Iraq are somewhat worse than in South Vietnam. The operative phrase, however, is this one: "politically meaningful future." There is no evidence, in his view, that anyone in the U.S. wants to do what it takes to succeed in Iraq, so that our options amount to finding the least problematical form of failure:
Do we have any other choice than to withdraw? We could stick it out, and I suspect that we could avoid losing in Iraq for another five, 10 or 15 years, as long as we’re willing to maintain high troop levels, continue to spend large amounts of money and suffer more casualties. But even the most conservative Republican candidates are unlikely to campaign on a platform of staying in Iraq indefinitely when the primary season starts next winter and the war enters its sixth year.
This means that we will have to engage in a very different debate from the one we have been having up to now, a debate not about surging and not about withdrawing with our goals accomplished but about how to draw down our forces in a way that minimizes the costs that will inevitably accompany our loss of control.
I can’t tell from this whether FF thinks that, absent our loss of heart, we could shore up an Iraqi government for long enough to have an acceptable outcome or (more likely) that our defeat is "inevitable."
I ask: in what sense inevitable? Is it inevitable because we simply can’t assure a decent outcome or because we won’t?
See the thread begun by Victor Davis Hanson
here for a "realistic" discussion of what FF’s realism really means.