Is the real purpose of the Surge to enable Bush to punt the problem of withdrawing from Iraq on to the next incumbent, or is it to provoke Iran into something stupid?
Based on what some of the far Right are saying about the one chartless section of Petreaus' testimony, Andy Sullivan is willing to consider the latter possibility:
I think Petraeus' testimony and the administration's agenda makes the most sense if you see all of this as a prelude to a risk of the wider war that Cheney desperately wants. If you keep Iraq occupied and in a state of barely arrested civil war, the chances of a casus belli against Iran increase. You can see the risk in Kurdistan and the South already. The extremist mullahs in Tehran would gladly reciprocate Cheney. Both Bush and Ahmadinejad have a domestic political interest in increasing polarization and conflict. This, I suspect, may even be the fallback reason behind the Anbar strategy. Bush is emboldening the Sunnis not just to take on al Qaeda, but at some point to take on the Shiite government in Baghdad, which the administration fears is too close to Iran. Bush and Cheney may well be trying to leverage this endless, constantly shifting civil war in Iraq - under the guise of fighting al Qaeda - into a mobilization for a campaign against Iran, along with a bombing campaign against their nuclear facilities. They are rhetorically laying the groundwork for such an attack. And they are looking for a reason to extend the conflict.
What they need to win the argument is more polarization. Hence the decision to pour as many resources and troops as they can into the quicksand of Iraq. Hence the exclusive cooptation of Republican party outlets like Fox News. They need to portray the complex implosion of Iraq as a war against those who murdered on 9/11; they need to create reasons to portray the war in Iraq as essentially indistinguishable over time from a war with Iran.