Remember that originally we were told that the new strategy would have to be showing tangible results by the summer - the "last chance." Then the deadline for that last chance was pushed back to the Fall. Now we're told that even by September we shouldn't expect real progress, because counterinsurgency work takes significant time and resources. Well, duh.
The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush's top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.
In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.
This is a sad day for McCain's presidential aspirations, since his only criticisms of the surge concerned its temporary nature and size - both of which have now been addressed, bringing the policy 100% under his ownership. In Iraq we've got a central government that is not central to national life, nor is it capable of governing even inside its small sphere of influence; Iraqi troops that we are no longer even attempting to replace us with, despite billions of dollars and years of training; a "National Unity" government that is not only frighteningly fractious, but also has not taken one step towards any of the critical acts of political reconciliation that are linchpins of our stated strategy. We are stalling furiously, forever pushing the moment of reckoning, when even the President and his 29%-supporters are forced to acknowledge the failure they have brought us in Iraq and the disastrous consequences that failure has had for America.
Please make no mistake - I am not rooting for defeat in Iraq, I am ruing it. That the Republicans gave us such a defeat is catastrophic.