The president has set a limit on the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. For now.
That's how escalation works. Ceilings become floors. Gradually.
But "escalation" isn't mere jargon. And it doesn't just refer to what's happening outside the United States.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on July 7 that no limit has been set. Speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he sounded an open-ended note: "There is not a ceiling on troop levels in Afghanistan."
Mullen's comment was scarcely reported in U.S. media outlets. It has become old news without ever being news in the first place.