Now in Bush's defense it should be said that the Reagan doctrine could not have worked in Iraq. Unlike in Afghanistan, which the mujaheedin turned into a Soviet "bleeding wound," there was no Iraqi resistance that could substantially threaten Saddam Hussein. Bush's choice was either for America to get rid of Hussein, or to leave Hussein in power. But from the beginning the administration understood that, even in Iraq, over time the Bush doctrine must metamorphose into the Reagan doctrine.
It has taken longer than expected. But that's because Saddam's Baathist minority--let's call them the Saddamites--ran not only the government but the entire society. So it has been quite a process to train a Shia elected government to learn to govern a nation in which they were victimized for a quarter century. Slowly, however, the Iraqis have been rising to the task, assisted by able U.S. forces under the competent leadership of General Petraeus.
So now, finally, Iraqis are getting to the position where they can defend their own country and fight for their own freedom. This is what "success" means in Iraq: not the end of the insurgency, or the end of terrorism, but a situation in which Iraqis take the helm and America moves into a supporting role. Of course America is going to get out of Iraq. The only question is whether we will leave recklessly, precipitously, with the risk of escalating violence and chaos and perhaps even a return of the Saddamites. This seems to be the approach the Obama Democrats want. The other option is to leave cautiously, deliberately, in a way that leaves Iraq a self-governing society, the only pro-American Muslim democracy in the Middle East.