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Redefining Success

For some time now, people have been saying that, when Gen. David Petraeus testifies about the "surge" in September, Republicans are going to start hopping off the war train if things haven't turned around. (That was supposedly the upshot of the meeting between 11 House Republicans and President Bush earlier this month.) But that left open the possibility that the White House would just send Petraeus to Congress to claim success no matter what was happening. And, according to Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times, that's precisely what's going to happen:

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. ...

With overhauls by the central government stalled and with security in Baghdad still a distant goal, Petraeus' advisors hope to focus on smaller achievements that they see as signs of progress, including local deals among Iraq's rival factions to establish areas of peace in some provincial cities.

"Some of it will be infrastructure that is being worked, some of it is local security for neighborhoods, some of it is markets reopening," said a senior military official in Baghdad who spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing military tactics.

Any bets as to how many "moderates" in Congress will swallow this and decide to stay the course? I'm guessing... all of them.

--Bradford Plumer