In February, I speculated it would take at least eight to 12 months before we'd know if Petraeus' approach will significantly accelerate the process. Petraeus promises an evaluation in September, so he is a month ahead of my low estimate. The year 2012 is probably a better time to evaluate it.
Yes, 2012, which is not one but two U.S. elections away. To pay off, "the surge" requires a lot of "sustain." This leads to a crucial point: A truly grievous American strategic weakness (which the surge does not address) is our own political cycle. Al-Qaida's jihadists plotted a multigenerational war. That means we must fight a multi-administration war, which entails bridging the whipsaw of the U.S. political cycle.
This is ridiculous, of course, but the purpose is to give Bush and the NeoCons breathing space. First it was 60 days, then 6 months. Now we can't tell whether the surge will work for at least five years. So the anti-war forces are just supposed to shut up until then.
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