The Middle East/Central Asian invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan are most likely proceeding as originally planned in terms of the timeframe since their respective beginnings. As I've said, the main reason for a decline in violence in Iraq is that most people have simply fled the country for Iran or Syria. Syria has extended its refugee migration limits every year since 2005 with President Assad himself saying in 2007 that "Syria cannot turn a blind eye" to the severity and enormity of the humanitarian crisis. For their trouble they tolerate illegal US military activity inside their own borders on a regular basis including a missile strike in September 2008 which left dozens dead and at least that many injured including innocent civilians. This operation was conducted under the auspices of "the pursuit of terrorists", the usual end-all excuse for US military operations anywhere. Now that violence is within an "acceptable level", a new phase of long-term presence will begin and continue for the indefinite future through the legal constructs of the SOA (Status of Forces Agreement), which of course includes contracts for virtually exclusive US rights to oil reserves along with roughly 50,000 "non-combat" troops left in place for "security training" and "force protection". It’s important to note that included in the language of the SOA, which I would encourage anyone to read, is the right to escalate the level of troops and operations at anytime within the country if the “needs” or “security concerns” arise.
There was a recent article in the Washington Post which led with the headline: 'Dark era' Over in Iraq as Bars Reopen. This story included a mention of young Iraqi women who "Appeared to be prostitutes in tight pink outfits dancing around to pop music". The story continued by hubristically boasting the triumph of democracy found in the scene of US soldiers in uniform, rifles strapped around their shoulders, sipping beers and cavorting about with the young Iraqi woman and the male bar owners. The quote of the "dark era" being over was placed in the headline as though it was the commentary of the UN Secretary General himself, when in reality those words were taken from an interview of an international pop singer who performs at the club featured in the article. To the victors go the spoils of war I guess, but when realizing the true weight of losses that the Iraqi people have endured since the first gulf war, the immoral 10-year sanctions which starved and killed hundreds of thousands including mainly infants and children, the latest invasion and occupation which is coming up on its 6th year anniversary, it's clear to see that the state of existence in this ravaged country has reached the bottom of the barrel in terms of hardship and hopelessness.
It might be worth observing that even Genghis Khan employed a military code of non-fraternization with women of conquered lands and enforced it as strictly as he could as part of a policy, similar to that of Alexander the Great, which preferred vassal partnerships as opposed to direct and marshal rule. Even a barbarian from 13th century Mongolia had a better understanding of regional stability and human relations than our own experts at the Pentagon and on the Defense Policy Board. If you take away a man’s house, his livelihood and ability to attain it, then deny and/or greatly impede his ability to have children, he will become desperate and solely driven to resistance and non-cooperation. The simple translation is that, given the assertions of policy by the great hero of “Hope” and “Change” and his administration, we will have never-ending violence and deaths for the Iraqi people and US military personnel. If the ‘Dark Era’ has ended, then we have now entered an historic black hole of civilization.