Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells reporters that the U.S. may silghtly accelerate its withdrawal from Iraq. He says General Odierno is telling him the security situation in Iraq is better than expected.

That's great news. Although my sense is that incremental security improvements mean less than it might seem. As American troops leave in large numbers, it seems likely that Iraq will either largely hold together, with scattered instances of conflict and terrorism, or plunge back into a renewed nightmare of chaos and sectarian violence. We can tweak our exit schedule to leave faster or more slowly, but the real question is whether the place is fundamentally able to hold together, and that remains unclear.   

--Michael Crowley