The arrogance and the incompetence that brought the United States to this moment in Iraq cannot release it from the obligations and the interests, some of indefinite duration, that require its persistence there. Much of this work is defensive in character, such as managing Kurdish autonomy to prevent a wider regional war, stopping the formation of an Al Qaeda mini-state in Anbar province, and challenging Iran’s clandestine warfare. Then, too, there remains a moral obligation to attempt to protect from mass violence and ethnic cleansing the majority of Iraqi civilians, who still participate peacefully in the constitutional system established by pre-emptive American force. The record of the past three years makes clear, however, that none of these goals can be achieved through a prolonged occupation carried out by a hundred thousand or more American combat troops. The President remains a long way from seeing this, and so the troops remain a long way from coming home.