Michael Barone

It can be argued that the surge will prove insufficient to produce the "sustainable stability" that O'Hanlon and Pollack see as a possible result. Serious military experts have argued that we still don't have enough troops or that we won't be able to keep enough troops in place long enough -- current force rotations indicate a net drawdown of troops next spring. And certainly there is room to make the argument that Bush should have acted sooner, as the results of the Samarra bombing became apparent months before the voters' wakeup call.

But it is also reasonably clear that Boyda's "reality of this issue" -- that our effort in Iraq has definitively and finally failed so clearly that there should be no further discussion -- may no longer be operative. That, instead of accepting defeat and inviting chaos, we may be able to achieve a significant measure of success.

Wars don't stand still. In June 1942, the House of Commons debated a resolution of no confidence in Winston Churchill's government. Four months later came the war-changing victory at El Alamein.

Gen. David Petraeus, the author of the Army's new counterinsurgency manual and the commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report on the surge in mid-September. The prospect of an even partially positive report has sent chills up the spines of Democratic leaders in Congress. That, says House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, would be "a real big problem for us."

The Democratic base has been furious that Democrats in Congress haven't pulled the plug on the war already, and Democratic strategists have been anticipating big electoral gains from military defeat. But if the course of the war can change, so can public opinion. A couple of recent polls showed increased support for the decision to go to war and belief that the surge is working. If opinion continues to shift that way, if others come to see things as O'Hanlon and Pollack have, Democrats could find themselves trapped between a base that wants retreat and defeat, and a majority that wants victory.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM