FOUR YEARS….Julian Barnes reports in the LA Times that Gen. Petraeus and his staff are already trying to dial down expectations for the surge:

U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

….Military officers said they understood that any report that key goals had not been met would add to congressional Democrats’ skepticism. But some counterinsurgency advisors to Petraeus have argued that it was never realistic to expect that Iraqis would reach agreement on some of their most divisive issues after just a few months of the American troop buildup.

These unnamed “counterinsurgency advisors” would be right if nobody had been working on any of these key goals until February 2007. In fact, though, they’ve been key goals for a long time. The problem isn’t that we won’t have any progress to show after six months, the problem is that we don’t have any progress to show after four years. Another Friedman or two isn’t going to change that.

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