According to Paul Rogers (6 Oct), Iraqi insurgents have been described in at least five different ways by the US administration. First they were "dead enders", then "remnants", then "hired guns", then (reluctantly) "nationalists", then "foreign jihadists".
Both Rogers and Godfrey Hodgson (3 Oct) concur with my response to Mark Danner (11 Sep) that Iraq is too important for US forces to leave.
Rogers concludes, as you would expect, that a continued US presence in the region will be a fundamental strategic mistake:
"For those dedicated radicals who expect it to take several decades to establish their caliphate, the prospect of a few more years of opportunity to train and harden thousands of young jihadists is almost too good to be true. On current trends, it is also exactly what they are likely to get".
But will the US, British and Israeli governments up the ante - going as far as the use of nuclear weapons against Iran sooner rather than later? Or will they settle for a diminished sphere of influence, centred on a Kurdish entity (ideally in a pragmatic non-confrontational stance towards EU-looking Turkey) in uneasy co-habitation with a Shi'ite dominated government in Baghdad that plays both (Iranian and Western) sides and does just enough to keep the Saudis onside? Will neither of these options be open?