The “surge” - success or failure?

The “surge” is a success.

The “surge” is a failure.

Come September, it is likely that you'll be hearing both verdicts from politicians, analysts and your neighbors. And it's likely that evidence in Iraq will support either conclusion. That's because success and failure hinge on definitions and expectations — how much better or worse is Baghdad? — not to mention rough statistics and anecdotes that tell at best only a sliver of the story.

Those who see success will probably point to subsiding violence in some parts of Baghdad and the undeniably positive alliances with Sunni tribesmen in Anbar province against Al Qaeda. Those who discern failure will find rising numbers of sectarian killings, suicide car bombings and an Iraqi parliament frustratingly unable or unwilling to set aside sectarian agendas to build a minimally functioning democracy.

There are few things more perilous than predicting events in Iraq. But absent a huge change in momentum, it seems likely that no matter what the statistics and arguments, September will bring political pressure for another shift in American strategy.

The “surge” has shown that more troops can bring a measure of security to some neighborhoods in Baghdad.

But it has also shown the limits of such forces in the absence of effective Iraqi political leadership …

— Chicago Tribune