For those Republicans, and Democrats too, who see the "surge" in Iraq working well, I pose this question:
After the surge and then when U.S. troops finally leave the divided and battered country, what then? With Iraqi security people in charge, will there be renewed chaos and internal religious strife? Without a real political settlement in place, peace seems distant.
For GOP neocons like Bill Kristol and Democrats like Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, the surge is a ringing success. Kristol adopted a nearly "I told you so" stance, conveniently forgetting that he and his ilk have been wrong on so many other issues in Iraq these past few years.
No one doubts that the suicide and car bombings have diminished. The deaths of U.S. service personnel are down. And some Iraqi families are returning from Syria and Jordan.
Let's look a little deeper.
There are still huge problems with the infrastructure of the nation despite hundreds of millions of this nation's money spent there. The economy is struggling. The British forces have left. We are virtually alone as keepers, so we can forget the term "coalition forces."
President Bush places himself fully behind Gen. David Patraeus, who is a patriot and a dedicated commander.
However, he is not a miracle worker. And as a West Pointer, it is part of his makeup to think any task can be accomplished.
Read David Halberstam's final book, The Coldest Winter, which speaks volumes about a military mission gone haywire in Korea. Starting with Gen. Douglas MacArthur himself, the brass made mistakes costing lives and treasure.
Until President Truman fired him, the right wing in America thought MacArthur could walk on water. He couldn't, and he made a mess of things in Korea.
Petraeus is no MacArthur. He recognizes civilian authority over the military, whereas MacArthur resented and ignored it.
But when the military does finally leave Iraq, we know it will not be the democracy our president envisioned. No one can safely predict what it will be.