Diana West

Iraq is only one campaign in the war against the nations that sponsor terrorism. Victory isn't an Iraq that can defend and govern itself. Victory is defined as the end of state sponsorship of Islamic terrorism, which means forcing Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and others out of that business. Nothing more is needed, and nothing less will defeat an existential threat to America."

Daniel Pipes writes in terms of losing the occupation but winning the war by keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, but removing them from the deadly cities -- perhaps to a base in Kurdistan, I would add, the closest thing to democracy in Mesopotamia -- "to influence developments in the world's most volatile theater." These include, Pipes writes, containing Iran and Syria; assuring the flow of oil; fighting international terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda.

Such a proposition is always undone by the word "bloodbath," as though Americans are eternally obligated to serve as buffers between the warring Islamic tribes of Iraq -- which is both cracked and a good way to tie up American forces for the next several centuries.

"Peace in Iraq has to be built on a Shiite-Sunni consensus, not a constant balancing act by us," Thomas Friedman writes. This begs the question: Should we stand on one foot until Iraq finds equilibrium? Surge architect Frederick Kagan apparently thinks so. The United States, he writes, should continue to serve as "the bridge between Sunni and Shia" in Iraq. Why? "If we remove this bridge now, it is unlikely that the Iraqis will be able to continue on a path to real reconciliation."

Maybe the United States needs to get out of the real reconciliation business, and fast. There's a world of trouble outside Iraq. At the very least, it's debatable whether building bridges between Sunnis and Shiites inside Iraq should remain American Priority No. 1. So let's debate it.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).