A contact familiar with the April NIE on terrorism says that buried in the discussion of the report so far is this dilemma: “The report notes that ‘victory’ in Iraq would be a blow to the jihadists, and that failure (especially if it led to the establishment of an al-Qaeda sanctuary or if veteran foreign jihadists dispersed out of Iraq to engage in terrorism in other parts of the world) would also be very bad. Thus, the report highlights the essential dilemma Iraq poses for the war on terror: staying fuels the al-Qaeda-inspired movement, creating a net increase in the terrorist threat; while leaving Iraq in chaos would also worsen the threat. The Democrats tend to focus on the first part of the dilemma; the administration focuses on the second part. They are both right (and wrong) -- and the debate would be greatly served by focusing on the dilemma itself.”This is only a "dilemma" if you accept that both sides have an equal chance of coming true. That is, for this to be a dilemma victory or defeat in Iraq would both need to be equally likely. Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I don't believe this is the case. Because "victory" in Iraq is almost out of the question at this point, the only relevant issue is what use does keeping Americans in Iraq serve? The answer, according to the NIE, is creating more terrorists with a side helping of American dead.
Leaving Iraq probably will be a disaster. But it's the only option left.