Another quick thought on the Surge Speech. Glenn Greenwald gives an example of the shared assumption common to war boosters and war critics:
But the fate of Iraq, tragically, is all but sealed - the President will send more troops and order them to be increasingly brutal and indiscriminate, and they will stay through at least the end of his presidency.
That assumption is that when American troops leave or how long they stay is strictly a choice of the United States.
But the enemy also has a vote in that decision. If the intent is to go after the Shi'a Mahdi Army - and escalating clashes with them are virtually certain even if the emphasis is on fighting Sunnis - there is a real possibility that the political and military position of the US in Iraq could collapse. In other words, it could become impossible well before 2009 to keep US troops there at a cost even the Cheney-Bush administration would be willing to pay.
As war supporter Anthony Cordesman warned last week, "It can be lost with surprising speed".