Perhaps he's just staying on message, but I was struck by Robert Gates' formulation yesterday--"fairly remote"--when he was asked whether Obama might slow our Iraq drawdown if violence spikes as we leave.

Of course, as Tom Ricks notes grimly, we're going to be leaving a huge troop force behind for several more months--and a non-trivial one even past August 2010:

Let me say this even more plainly: Our participation in this war ends not when one president hangs a "Mission Accomplished" banner or when another president declares that combat has ended, but when American troops stop being killed there. I asked a military official at the White House on Friday if American troops will stop dying in Iraq in August 2010, and he said no, that will go on.

--Michael Crowley