By Patrick Appel
A reader writes:

The fallacy of the McCain position as well as the Bush position is that "conditions on the ground" will dictate both strategy and tactics going forward in Iraq. However, the one thing that certainly may be said about this war is that conditions on the ground have had little impact on our policy toward Iraq.  Conditions on the ground did not slow the drive for invasion, it did not change how the war was waged, they -- seemingly -- had little to do with the implementation of the surge.  Arguably, domestic politics and NeoCon ideology has always had more influence.  The surge itself became the tactic of choice because Bush could no longer ignore the disaster that he had created AND Congress was slipping away from his control.

Now, defining the position as one of both patriotic and strategic superiority, we hear brave words about how we may withdraw if "conditions on the ground" permit. But McCain, in his historic embrace of the totality of the Bush policy (he has never rejected it in spite of the emergence of facts disproving the case for war), has never been swayed by conditions on the ground in his policy pronouncements as well as his tactical and strategic suggestions. "Conditions on the ground" is this year's "stay the course" it is a meaningless phrase for all intents and purposes because it is devoid of a definition of what constitutes "victory" as it is empty of a realistic vision of what has happened in Iraq and where Iraq and the region is heading.

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