The "Begin" Loophole, Ctd

Mike Crowley rounds up some reaction from top Obama officials, including the defense secretary:

Asked by John McCain whether July 2011 amounts to an "an arbitrary date" to begin a transition, Gates replied that the national security team concluded "that we would be in a position, particularly in uncontested areas, where we would be able to begin that transition." Note the emphasis: particularly in uncontested areas. Yes, one would certainly hope that America can withdraw from areas the Taliban aren't even contesting within eighteen months. But there won't be many American troops in those places to begin with. People hoping that this war will come to a swift end beginning in the summer of 2011 would do well to understand that now, or risk severe disappointment down the road.