It is possible that George W Bush learned something during the troop surge, and his last visit to Iraq. That something is that Democracy starts from the bottom up.
As far as I can tell, Bush's post war strategy went little beyond the idea that Iraq would have an election, after which we would then provide services to the wonderful people in a wonderful centralized, but elected government.
That central government, of course, proved to do little more beyond reflect the deep divides that Saddam Hussein used to maintain his dictatorial control. The government has proven itself largely ineffective.
The troop surge has our military working more directly with the people. This working with the people resonates in a better way than the top down approach.
The surge highlights a potential path to a free Iraq. If the surge provides a sufficient drop in violence so that NGOs could move in to work with the people, the country could see itsself on the way to recovery.
Unfortunately, so many powerful forces around the world now have a vested interest in defeat (such as the Democratic Party) that such process only have a slim possibility of success. That is unless someone can figure out a way to bring these disenfranchised groups on board to a real nation rebuilding effort.
A Democratic candidate probably would do well if they took the tact that they wound simply start the relations with the mideast at the point where Bush leaves off, and they they would concentrate primarily on ground up reconstruction efforts and can the idea that top down military coups bring peace.
I don't think that this could really happen. First of all, I don't think the Democrats are any better at building from the ground up than Republicans. The power structure of the Democratic party sees the people as something that you buy off, and not something you build up. The very fact that the left is fully committed to socialized medicine is a case in point. Socialized medicine doesn't build people up, it just transfers greater power to the center by buying people off.
The Anbar trip may have reminded Bush of something that he had forgotten. Democracy is about the people and it is about building a society from the bottom up. The top down structure falls when it does not have a firm foundation with the people.
On an end note, I thought I would highlight a really cool presentation by the Multinational Forces that show the Iraqi Provinces.