Anthony Cordesman is a respected Republican military analyst.
As in Vietnam, the US can win virtually every tactical encounter. As in Vietnam, this is irrelevant without political unity, effective governance, and a nationalist ideology with more real world impact than its extremist, sectarian, and ethnic competition.
Part of the problem is that the US is trying to fight the wrong “war.” The US does need to fight a serious counterinsurgency campaign, but this seems to be focused far too narrowly on both Al Qa’ida, which is only one Sunni Islamist extremist movement, and on the most radical elements of the Sadr militia. The US does not have an effective strategy or the operational capability to deal with the broader problem of armed nation- building, or with a widening pattern of civil conflicts.