Over at Chuck for... I spent some time on the issue of "Winning" as an unconvinced sort, this over here is the other side. What is it that constitutes losing in Iraq? The Republicans are pretty clear that if the Democrats prevail and we withdraw, we lose. Withdraw = defeat. I can get the metric of leaving when the Republicans don't want us to is a Republican defeat, but they evidently want us to take it as something more.
Sainted Gen Petraeus was willing to put Al Qaeda in Iraq numbers at something in excess of 1,000. That is quite a few trouble makers with access to military hardware and munitions. It is not a credible fighting force, it cannot take and hold ground. It is really no more than a police matter. Whatever else it is, Al Qaeda in Iraq cannot take over the government. Nobody paying any attention could manage to "lose" to that bunch.
There is talk of our exit leading to a failed state. This is actually said with a straight face - failed state - as though what is in existence now is somehow successful. The government in Iraq is rated one of the most corrupt in the world, Republicans can rightfully point to that success The government is representative of a fraction of the country, some self-excluded, some excluded but it is not a government of Iraq. We have now armed and trained Sunnis, those at most danger of genocide, so they will now be somewhat difficult to just eradicate.
An explosion of violence is possible. The question being whether such a spike of violence would be in fact worse than the steady drip, drip of violence today. It is an unfortunate sort of measure to take, but factually the difference between 5,000 victims over 5 years and 5,000 over a month is immaterial. The pile of bodies at one time certainly looks worse in a short period, it is still the same pile. I have a natural aversion to being heartless in expression, but dammit, dead is dead.
The very latest version of loss is Iran having great influence over Iraq. I have a news flash for those making that argument, they already have it. Our President sneaks in, the Iranian President roams the streets to cheers, flowers, and kisses. A failed Iraqi offensive against the Sadrists is saved by a ceasefire mediated by the Iranians - not us. The plain fact is that Iran has sheltered the Shia from Saddam and from us, now. We opened that door thrice, once by invading Iraq, once by failing to secure the country after Saddam's fall, and once again by poking the Iranians. There is finally the fact that Iranians are Persians and Iraqis are Arabs and despite some physical similarities they are not anything remotely the same nor particularly fond of each other. Iraq will not become an Iranian colony.
If the Republicans must declare leaving a loss, then I'll go along with it. I'm much more fond of reality than the words used to describe it.