UNLIKE the Grand Old Duke of York, then, Mr General Patraeus has left his unfortunate troops in a hole in Iraq while he marched HIMSELF to the top of the Hill.
If it didn't involve a DEVASTATED Middle Eastern country, this whole business would be entirely PANTOMIME.
The "surge" is working, says the Monkey in Chief.
"Oh no it isn't!" say the people of Iraq.
"Oh yes it is!" says the General.
"Oh no it isn't!" say the Democrat Senators.
"He's BEHIND YOU! (in the opinion polls)" says EVERYONE…
Anticipation is high that – after weeks of US Generals calling the British "cowards" and "defeated" for withdrawing troops from Iraq – the Monkey-in-Chief will be appearing on television to announce the US will be withdrawing their troops from Iraq.
Okay, so the (first part of the) plan is only to go back to "pre-surge" levels, i.e. a-hundred-and-thirty-eight thousand
And don't ask for them to be sent home before the middle of 2008 (unless you want the country to implode)!
But I think it is PRETTY OBVIOUS to everyone (and that especially includes President Armageddon-jab in Iran) that we have reached that stage of the conflict when one of the powers decides to make a discrete series of STRATEGIC ADVANCES in the direction of THEIR OWN BORDERS, quietly leaving the locals to SLAUGHTER each other until they can pull themselves into a settlement.
This being the Iraq conflict, quite naturally NO ONE is thinking of coming up with an actual PLAN; they are all FAR too busy doing the important PR work of covering their shiny military asses, as they say in America-land.
If the BRITISH have anything to say about it, though, then it will no doubt result in PARTITION – see also Israel and Palestine; India and Pakistan; and Northern Ireland. The Kurds will get their Kurdistan (to the HUGE annoyance of the Turks); the Sunnis will get the westerly province of Anbar (though that looks a lot more difficult today) and the Shiites will get the rump of Iraq, but, hey, they will get most of the OIL! This will, as usual, result in many decades of hostility, feuding and open warfare before eventually… actually, we don't KNOW what will happen eventually as we've NEVER got past the hostility, feuding and open warfare – see also Israel and Palestine; India and Pakistan; and Northern Ireland (oh, all right, the last one seems to be working out now that after 9/11 the Americans have stopped funding the terrorists 'cos they don't see the funny side any more).
The factions continue to prepare for the day after the Americans go, while the ordinary Iraqi-in-the-street (or more likely NOT in the street, but hiding at home) is just exhausted by it all. 70% of Iraqis think their security is WORSE… and that's in the area where the surge actually IS! And a similar number think their government is rubbish too, and only being held up by the US army.
Things are NEVER going to get better while we are still there making things WORSE.
Isn't it time we all came home?
Meanwhile, while the Democrats go on the offensive, and the Monkey-in-Chief continues to be REALLY offensive, all the US army can hope for is some COVERING FIRE from their top brass.
Oooh, and look what an EXCITING collection of MERIT BADGES Mr General Patraeus has got!