"I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated," Obama told host Bill O'Reilly. "It's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Setting: Oval Office, December 2006:
PotUS Bush: So, General Petraeus do you have a plan for me?
Gen Petraeus: Yes sir! But it won't work. Or more technically, nobody thinks it will work, but it is the only idea we have--you know, besides just abandoning the project.
PotUS Bush: Okay, so the plan won't work. But my understanding here is that it will not work in a less-bad way than any other conceivable plan?
Gen Petraeus: Exactly sir! Some of the optimists claim that this effort will delay the inevitable civil war and that is a kind of success. Doctors (for instance) consider a treatment a success if they extend a patient's life beyond what it would have been without the treatment. In this case however, we have no expectation (nobody does) that this effort will even delay the civil war. Some of our political opponents even claim that our effort will aggravate the situation.
"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there," the Illinois senator said that night, a month before announcing his presidential bid. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
PotUS Bush: So, General; why should I approve your plan?
Gen Petraeus: Mr. President: When we plan this kind of operation we establish scenarios. For example there is a 50:50 chance that the plan will go more or less as we expect, within a range of slightly better or slightly worse. Then there is a 25% chance it will go much better than expected and a 25% chance it will go much worse. If the plan goes much, much, much better than expected; a less than 1% expectation, then it might someday be called a success.
PotUS Bush: So this plan will only be considered a success if it works as well as our wildest dreams?
Gen Petraeus: No Mr. President. It will have to succeed beyond our wildest dreams to ever be considered a success.
PotUS Bush: Senator McCain, can I count on your public endorsement for this plan?
Sen McCain: As you know Mr. President, I am in favor of any costly effort which nobody thinks will work as long as there are no available plans which will work better. As I see it sir, if you are going to loose at something you've got to show that you tried your hardest. Otherwise, people will always say that you could have won, but you just didn't try hard enough.
PotUS Bush: That is a good point Senator. If we pull-out now, we show lack of resolve. If we show utter resolve but still fail, we show a fundamental lack of capability. Which is worse? I say resolve is more important and who knows, maybe our capabilities go beyond what any of us expect!