In a speech today at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., President Bush outlined his strategy for winning the war in Iraq and gradually withdrawing U.S. forces. The complete transcript of the speech can be found on the White House website here, and the PDF of the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq can be found here (LA Times). I wonder how many people will take the time to read the document? I did, and I'm fine with it as long as they don't start withdrawing troops before Iraqi security forces are ready. This is to say, I support keeping American forces in Iraq for the next five to ten years. When American forces withdraw from Iraq there must be a functional civilian government (more or less democratic, probably less) and a security force capable of maintaining order and defending the borders. That does not describe the situation today and it probably won't describe the situation in a year. Patience will be needed and I worry that U.S. domestic politics (and a media fixation on daily insurgent attacks) will undermine that patience and the will needed to leave on our terms. It is vital, vital, that we leave on our terms, because even if one concedes that the war in Iraq had little do to with 9-11, success in Iraq has everything to do with preventing another 9-11. If we leave Iraq in political chaos and sectarian violence and allow it to become another Taliban-style breeding ground for terrorism then another 9-11 is virtually assured. American security now lies with establishing and maintaining security in Iraq.