George Will in yesterday’s WaPo (emphasis mine):
Those who today stridently insist that the surge has succeeded also say they are especially supportive of the president, Petraeus and the military generally. But at the beginning of the surge, both Petraeus and the president defined success in a way that took the achievement of success out of America’s hands.
The purpose of the surge, they said, is to buy time — “breathing space,” the president says — for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?
Many of those who insist that the surge is a harbinger of U.S. victory in Iraq are making the same mistake they made in 1991 when they urged an advance on Baghdad, and in 2003 when they underestimated the challenge of building democracy there. The mistake is exaggerating the relevance of U.S. military power to achieve political progress in a society riven by ethnic and sectarian hatreds. America’s military leaders, who are professional realists, do not make this mistake.
Even with the talk about how violence may have taken a dip during the summer (especially in certain areas), we are no closer to a political solution. Without a political solution, there is no solution. You can’t deliver democracy by the barrel of a gun. That’s not “hating the troops”, or being “invested in defeat”, or any other bullshit wingnut propaganda line. That’s being a realist. And that’s what many of us on the left have been saying for years.