We have created a hotbed of threat in Iraq. Call it whatever you will, the debate is over, the situation is "grave and deteriorating." We went to fight the terrorist there so we would not have to fight them here, and instead created a magnet, attracting terrorist who want to learn how to fight the US. What do we do now? We are left with only a few options.
We can, as some have suggested, follow the pattern of Vietnam, increase the troop levels, and watch the death count rise exponentially. I, however, want to see Americans stop dying (what a fucking liberal right?). We can also just split, pull out our troops and pray to whatever god you pray to that the terrorist we leave wont show up at our doorstep a decade later. Or we can revisit what may have been one of the only successful tactics from the cold war; containment.
The tactic of containment is most widely attributed to George F. Kennan. In 1947, Kennan, "With the publication in Foreign Affairs of ‘The Sources of Soviet Conduct,’...introduced the term ‘containment’ to the world." (John Levis Gaddis, "Strategies of Containment" p.26) This was the plan of the Cold War. A plan that called for patience and competence. A plan that took into account, not only goals, but capabilities. This administration has proven incapable of understanding this interaction between desires and capabilities.
So how does containment relate to Iraq? Obviously I am not talking about this in the same sense as the Cold War. Back then, the object was to prevent the Soviets from extending their spheres of power and influence. The threat we face now from Iraq is the insurgents that have had years to fight the US. They hate us more than before, and they have a far greater understanding of our strategies. This is certainly a group of people whose influence we want to contain. How do we do that?
Most importantly, we need to control the Iraqi borders. We cannot allow insurgents to make their way out of Iraq. However, this containment has to go farther than just physical movement. We have to dampen their communication abilities as well. There have already been reports of Iraqi insurgency tactics showing up in Afghanistan. Our technological advantage when it comes to communication gives us an advantage on this. This strategy not only would allow us to withdraw troops from the cities and relocate them along heavily fortified areas at the borders. It also calls for a redeployment of all aspects of our strategy.
Aside from containing the insurgency that threatens our security, we can also focus on containing external influences from Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc... Our nation should absolutely want as much of the world as possible to take part in correcting the Iraq problem, but only in a way that is transparent and cooperative. If external actors are funneling weapons, money, or soldiers into Iraq, the only way we can attack that is to lock the borders down.
Some may argue that containment is an old strategy for an old enemy. In part, you are right. Our enemies have evolved, and our strategies must follow suit. However, throwing out an idea because it was used in the past is not acceptable. We can adapt the once used strategies of containment to the new threats of today.