Air assault in Iraq
The reason I say this is that I have been thinking recently a lot about how the Americans plan to make good on their promise to step down troop levels this year. No matter how I look at it, the only way that I can see this happening is by replacing the grunts on the ground with bombers and strike fighters in the air and let the Iraqi government forces essentially act as target callers for them. Unless, of course, the Americans are happy to just play hidey-hole in the Green Zone and let the rest of the country go to hell. (Which, some of you are saying is exactly what's happening, and you're right of course; but I'm trying to think from a Bush Administration standpoint and that means sometimes letting optimism override my eyes.)
That this can go bad is obvious - it is essentially the same strategy the US used in the latter years of the Vietnam war and it didn't work so well then. In fact, there are many ways that this can go very badly. An obvious one is if the Shi'a-dominated government is calling the shots, um, literally in this case, and decides to start getting a little heavy-handed with the Sunni and Kurd minorities, US air power might well be used as a weapon in what amounts to a civil war.
Tom Englehart in this article a few months ago discussed this very thing and suggested that the Americans are quietly (if you're not there when it actually happens) expanding the air war in Iraq and that this may well be the draw-down strategy they plan on using. (Quiet in that we don't know what's going on. Centcom reports indicate when missions are flown, but give very little detail, so it's hard for reporters to follow what's really happening when most of them are reporting from a safe country or from inside the Green Zone and only see the planes fly off and return. There are no embeds in the F-14's apparently.)
If what is happening on the ground in Iraq interests you, go read the Englehart article and it's attachment, and keep in touch with Juan Cole's blog - he's got the goods. And if there are any military-types out there that want to share there thoughts on the future of Iraq/US, um, relations, I'd love to hear from you!