Basra was once considered a success story, just like the White House is wishfully putting out the message that the surge also will be a success.....
This is because, for the umpteenth forking time, a military success is empty without a political success, and political success becomes more elusive the longer that U.S. troops – the Mother of All Flash Points – remain in country. [emphasis mine]
This is a basic point of military strategy; it must be subordinated to a greater set of political goals. These political goals have positive and negative constraints, but more importantly these goals must be clearly enunciated, and made relevant up and down the chain of command. More importantly, these political goals need to be somewhat located in the realm of reality.
The original military goals of defeating static, and linearly defensive Republican Guard formations, take the major population centers and then get out after installing Chalabi as a puppet backed by US money, US special forces, and US supported exile militias was a quasi-feasible goal with massive and negative side-effects, but doable. Now, I have no idea what the strategic political goal is besides allowing domestic political operators to blame someone else.