So much for pressuring the Iraqis to stand up for their own country. In case it wasn't obvious already -- it was -- today Bush made perfectly clear that troop levels will not dip below the pre-surge level of 140,000 for the remainder of his presidency.
The "debate" over the surge has always perplexed me. We can all acknowledge that violence has mainly decreased. One doesn't need a masters degree in foreign affairs to know that flooding more troops in would help cause that. The real issue is whether (a) the levels are sustainable -- they're not -- and (b) whether the "surge" has achieved the intended result of providing the Iraqi government the breathing room needed to make the essential political progress -- it hasn't. Furthermore, the relative decrease in violence has just as much to do with troop levels as it does with ethnic cleansing, physical separation of varying sects, millions of Iraqi refugees, and millions of dollars in bribe money being doled out. By every meaningful measure, the surge has been a failure, providing breathing room only to President Bush so that he can pass along the disaster he started to the next President. Then again, that was probably the goal all along.