There is another possibility that the surge may be masking. It is that the enemies of democracy and America are lying low, knowing that if the surge appears to be working, U.S. forces are likely to withdraw more quickly. Then, after substantial numbers have left, the terrorists, backed by Iran, might flood back in, or come out of hiding and strike again. This could require a return of American forces at even greater cost in lives and money.
In a July 2 interview with Military Times, Obama said: "If current trends continue and we're in a position where we continue to see reductions in violence and situations and stabilizations and continue to see improvements on the part of the Iraqi army and Iraqi police, then you know my hope would be that we could draw down in a deliberate fashion in consultation with the Iraqi government, at a pace that is determined in consultation with Gen. Petraeus and the other commanders on the ground and it strikes me that that's something we can begin relatively soon after inauguration. If, on the other hand, you've got a deteriorating situation for some reason then that's going to have to be taken into account."
After all that, he still says before visiting Iraq that 16 months remains his timetable.
A drawdown of troops is now becoming a possibility, thanks to the surge and President Bush's refusal to buckle under political and media pressure. But that's no credit to Obama. He's undecided.