"I find the reaction to [Romney's] remarks last night a little dismaying. Do conservatives really want to tie themselves to the position that the surge is not only working, but that there can be no doubt on the score and that anyone who acknowledges the existence of doubt is a heretic? As for Romney's looking forward to a possible troop drawdownsomething Bush has also done!what's our bottom line there? Do we want troops there forever? Is that what conservatives should want Republicans to campaign on next year?" - Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO.

Ponnuru is onto something. Does the GOP really want to claim the position that the surge has "worked", whatever that means? Do the Republicans really want to campaign on that message - an indefinite, prolonged occupation of Iraq? Almost all the candidates have now locked themselves into that position. I fear it is hopelessly utopian. There is something desperate and unseemly about all these high-octane declarations of "success" in Iraq, when the evidence for such success is extremely thin, and largely irrelevant to the fundamental task of putting the country back together again. My own view is that the surge simply cannot do what it was designed to do, because it isn't nearly large enough and came far too late. If I'm right, then we are going to have a terrible 2008 - as violence engulfs the country even while the US claims victory. The current Hewitt-style message - "We're winning! All critics are traitors and hate the troops!" - may rally the ranks now, but at the risk of a wipe-out when the bottom falls out of this alleged turning point as well. At that point, which of the GOP candidates will have any credibility on foreign policy? They'll be in the "last throes" land that has consigned Dick Cheney to deserved ridicule.

The premise of the current GOP position, in other words, is that Iraq is on the verge of improvement. I'm sorry but I don't see it. If I'm right, the GOP is throwing itself off a cliff. At least Ramesh sees the possibility.

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