This CS Monitor story reports that morale among US troops in Iraq has “hit rock bottom”. I used to use this phrase in relation to the university I worked at during the Kemp-Vanstone era, but then realised it was a mistaken metaphor, since it implies a zero level. In fact, no matter how low morale is, it can always go lower.
In relation to Iraq, the inapplicbility of the metaphor the current situation is clear. The griping reported in the story is nothing compared to, say, Vietnam, where desertion and ‘fragging’ (murder of officers, with the weapon of choice being a fragmentation grenade) were routine events [there was an isolated case of this kind during the Iraq war, but nothing since].
But it’s hard to see any alternative to a long occupation or any way that morale among the occupying forces can go, other than down. For a successful war of liberation, what was needed was multilateral support, ideally including support from Islamic countries willing to supply peacekeeping forces, and an internationally recognised alternative government ready to take over in a relatively short period.