If you believe Gen. David Petraeus, we’re making remarkable progress in Iraq, the surge is working, the Iraqi government’s getting stronger, and troops will soon be coming home as promised.

If only it were so. But it’s not. Yes, the surge has helped reduce violence (though not as much as the insurgent cease-fire called by Moqtada al-Sadr), but 30 to 40 Americans are still getting killed every month and there are growing attacks against the Green Zone.

The Iraqi government, in fact, is not getting stronger — as it proved, last week, when it tried, but failed, to take control of Basra. In what George Bush strangely called “a defining moment,” the al-Maliki government, outgunned by al-Sadr, had to call on Iran to stop the fighting.

And, while 20,000 American troops may come home by July, that will still leave over 140,000 Americans in Iraq — more than when the surge began — with no timetable or schedule for bringing them home.

Not only that, the Pentagon is actually negotiating a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government about keeping American troops in the country indefinitely. Maybe John McCain wasn’t so far off when he talked about staying there 100 years.

Despite the lack of success in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus’s efforts have not failed entirely. It’s clear from his testimony that he has accomplished one thing. He’s helped President Bush achieve his main goal: to keep the war in Iraq going until January 2009, so Bush can dump it into the lap of his successor.

In that, David Petraeus has succeeded. General, you’ve done a heck of a job!

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