What Kevin said about press coverage of Bush's plans "to order troop cuts only because of the success achieved on the ground in Iraq." Obviously, this is BS. We're returning to pre-surge troop levels next year because the surge was a surge -- something temporary -- because the military lacks the logistical capacity to further prolong it.

But if the policy is simply to continue the surge for as long as possible in hopes of a stroke of good luck on the political end, and then to end the surge when the operational strain requires it whether or not that luck has actually emerged, then what's the point of even having this whole argument about "progress"? Bush's position is actually one of studied indifference to conditions on the ground and the logic of the policy, namely that more US troops equals more security and security is the precondition for reconciliation, is that the surge should continue if there's progress (because it's working) or if there's no progress (because more security is needed). Either way, the surge is both a self-sustaining and self-limited policy intervention.