As America marks the first anniversary of the troop escalation in Iraq, at least one thing has become clear. Although the “surge” is failing as policy, it seems to be succeeding as propaganda. Even as George W. Bush continues to bump and scrape along the bottom of public approval, significantly more people now believe we are “winning” the war.

What winning really means and whether that vague impression can be sustained are questions that the war’s proponents would prefer not to answer for the moment. Their objective during this election year is simply to reduce public pressure for withdrawal, which is still the choice of an overwhelming majority of voters. ~Joe Conason

This is pretty much in line with what I argued in one of my TAC columns last month (sorry, not online).  As others have noted, the real political goal of the “surge” seems not to have been to stabilise a viable Iraqi government, but to shore up collapsing support for the war here.  Even so, the domestic political effects have mostly been limited to Washington.  Public opinion remains as resolutely against the war as it was a year ago.  Three quarters of Americans do not want a “large number” of troops in Iraq two years from now, and half the country wants most of our forces out in less than a year.