The Bush administration is quietly rijiggering its internal expectations for Iraq, senior administration officials have told the New York Times. In spite of a publicly optimistic stance, Bush is already preparing for the possible failure of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's regime and readying to maintain a troop surge well into 2008.
The administration expects its planned September evaluation of the troop surge to reveal limited gains, if any. Perhaps a bigger problem is Maliki, whose slow movement on political reconciliation is a time bomb for the White House. Yet Bush's public poker face is set: “He knows that it doesn’t pay to say what you expect Maliki to get done,” says one Republican.