Recent events in Basra and Baghdad, as Ron has been reporting over the last few days, might indicate that we're going to be standing for quite some time.
Paltry result of Iraqi offensive quiets U.S. withdrawal talk
The Bush administration was caught off-guard by the first Iraqi-led military offensive since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a weeklong thrust in southern Iraq whose paltry results have silenced talk at the Pentagon of further U.S. troop withdrawals any time soon.
President Bush last week declared the offensive, which ended Sunday, "a defining moment" in Iraq's history.
That may prove to be true, but in recent days senior U.S. officials have backed away from the operation, which ended with Shiite militias still in place in Basra, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki possibly weakened and a de facto cease-fire brokered by an Iranian general.
As this article goes on, it seems clear that people in the Pentagon and the Bush administration were actually, generally surprised at the ineffective performance of the Iraqi army and police forces. There was already talk of a "pause" in the draw down of the surge troops, but that now seems to be the default position.
I'm pretty sure that one of the things John McCain was counting on was that the progress in Iraq was real, that we would continue to draw down troops through the summer and fall, and Iraq would fade from the political radar by November. However, if this "paltry" performance continues, as the article suggests, we won't be seeing reductions in troop numbers, violence, or casualties. This will feed some powerful ammunition to the Democratic nominee and make McCain answer some tough questions about his previous predictions.