Surprise, surprise. The Washington Post editorial board, which supported the war from the beginning and has been telling us victory is within grasp for, oh, six years, says we’re winning in Iraq. If so, does that mean we can bring US troops home then? Isn’t that the point of winning?

Not so fast, says the WaPo.

Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise. That will mean tying withdrawals to the evolution of the Iraqi army and government, rather than an arbitrary timetable; Iraq’s 2009 elections will be crucial.

When things are bad we cannot leave because it will mean we’ve lost. When things are improved we cannot leave because these improvements are so tenuous they will be reversed in our absence. The only constant is the necessity of our continued presence until some date in the near future.

If this argument seems to you to inevitably to permanent occupation you’re catching on.