When it comes to surging in Iraq, it's "encouraging" out there. So the President tells us ("Yet even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signsâ€¦"); so Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the surge commander in Baghdad, tells us ("[It's] too early to discern significant trends, [but] there have been a few encouraging signsâ€¦"). No, they're not talking about what Juan Cole calls the "new spate of massive and deadly bombings [that] has spread insecurity and further compromised the Iraqi governmentâ€¦ right in downtown Baghdad, within spitting distance of the Green Zone, where the U.S. and the Iraqi government planned out the new security arrangements"; they're referring to some weapons caches found, some under-strength Iraqi units deployed to the capital, a possible small drop in deaths from sectarian violence.
Still, if surge success isn't exactly looming on the horizon, it's clear enough what is: Call it "surge creep." In a way, surge creep has been the story of the Iraq War since the beginning.
Numbers creep: As Tom Ricks has reported in his book Fiasco,when the Bush administration first invaded Iraq in March 2003, its top officials believed that, by August, most American troops would be withdrawn. Only 30,000 or so would remain to garrison a grateful country. That, of course, was four years ago. Today, American troop totals in Iraq are heading back towards 160,000-plus.