This tidbit reported by Dan Froomkin yesterday caught my attention:
So according to the White House, the "surge" must be successful before we can even start to talk about withdrawing any troops from Iraq. Ignoring for a moment the fact that Bush has never actually defined "success" as it applies to anything in Iraq, this clearly implies that there will be no withdrawal if the adventure fails. If that's the case, then why is General Petraeus saying that the surge is going so swimmingly that he's already calling for it to continue until at least December so that he can reduce troops levels to...exactly where they were before the surge started by the end of 2008? So which is it...the surge will keep going if it succeeds, or if it fails? Who's the decider here anyway?
"Officials say proponents of reducing the troops and scaling back their mission next year appear to include Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They have been joined by generals at the Pentagon and elsewhere who have long been skeptical that the Iraqi government would use the opportunity created by the troop increase to reach genuine political accommodations."
But Michael Abramowitz and Peter Baker wrote Sunday in The Washington Post that the White House disputed the Times report. They write: "The administration is trying to make judgments about where it will be in the months ahead, and officials are discussing possibilities accordingly. The scenarios for troop withdrawal are based on the premise of a successful 'surge.' There is also discussion about what to do if the buildup plan fails, but officials are unwilling to discuss it with outsiders even privately."