Many of the parallels between the U.S. and imperial Rome are obvious: unrivaled (which is not to say unchallenged) power of the "known world", far-flung campaigns to secure natural resources (grain then, oil now), subject of world envy while simultaneously despised by that very same world. Even going down to the very name of the U.S. General in charge of Iraqi operations, General Petraeus (ok, this is getting a bit silly, Mr. Bush). However, if one can get beyond the Daily Show-esque comic element of his name, his qualifications are actually quite impressive - and I would go so far as to say downright amazing. Here's a snippet that I copied from his entry at Wikipedia:
"Petraeus was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College - class of 1983. He subsequently earned a Master of Public Administration (1985) and a Ph.D. (1987) in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He later served as Assistant Professor of International Relations at the U.S. Military Academy, and also completed a fellowship at Georgetown University. He has a BS from the U.S. Military Academy - class of 1974."
Could a candidate possibly be more qualified than this? I doubt it. While this does not ensure or even necessarily increase the U.S. chances for "victory", however that ends up being defined, it should at the very least result in an extraordinarily well-informed assessment of the situation from the ground forces level. What is done with that assessment is anyone's guess, but I would hope that the appointment of such a well-credentialed, educated, and qualified individual to the top post indicates a sincere willingness and desire on the part of President Bush to determine exactly what our prospects for victory are, as well as what is likely to occur if victory is not achieved. Someone who has excelled at West Point, Princeton, and Georgetown will have an excellent foundation in both military history and international relations, accompanied by a scholarly perspective of the whole affair. There may yet be hope for this to come out as well as it possibly can, if not as well as once assumed.