David Brooks writes about surge opponents:
They have already gone through the stages of intellectual denial. First, they simply disbelieved that the surge and the Petraeus strategy was doing any good. Then they accused people who noticed progress in Iraq of duplicity and derangement. Then they acknowledged military, but not political, progress. Lately they have skipped over to the argument that Iraq is progressing so well that the U.S. forces can quickly come home.
Now I think that captures an important part of the contortions around the debate. But if you really want to be intellectually honest about the surge debate, the essence of the matter is that the whole question of “working” or “not working” is avoiding the bigger debate. To its proponents, the surge is working so well that it sets the stage for years and years of further American military engagement in Iraq. And it’s true — the security gains of the past year do make the Bush/McCain strategy of perpetual military entanglement in Iraq look a lot more viable than it looked a year ago. But it’s also true that the security gains of the past year make a strategy of leaving Iraq look a lot more viable than it looked a year ago.
Basically, when Iraq was hellishly violent, all possibly strategies seemed likely to lead to more hellish violence. The cliché was to start every discussion of Iraq by saying “there are no good options, but…” Now insofar as things look better, all options really do look better as a consequence.