International forces in Afghanistan are preparing to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan soldiers and police by the end of 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama has argued that battlefield successes since 2009 have enabled this transition and that with it, "this long war will come to a responsible end."
Gen. David Petraeus’ assertions about falling casualties in Iraq are supported by a range of objective sources. But his testimony to Congress does not establish whether the decline is attributable to the surge or to sectarian cleansing.
The prognosis for Iraq looks bad and is getting worse. If the trend does not improve soon, the United States may have no choice but to cut its losses and get out. Recently, many have looked to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to engineer a change in strategy that might arrest this decline, and the ISG's report does indeed contain some useful ideas and worthwhile recommendations. But on the whole, it offers the political groundwork for a complete withdrawal more than it offers a sustainable solution to the conflict.