Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At Last! Troop Reductions!

President Bush is expected to say that he plans to reduce the US troop presence in Iraq by about 30,000 starting next spring, according to this article.

My guess is that he will make some statements to the effect that because of the successes of the Surge, we now have the flexibility to begin to bring home troops. Of course, the troops we're bringing home will be about the same number as we sent over for the Surge, which, by definition, and by the President's design, was to be a short-term operation. So what the President will be doing, essentially, is what he said he'd be doing when he started this whole thing, but he'll be adding a PR twist.

The problem with the twist is that the surge, according to both the President and General Petraeus standards at the beginning, is not working. It did not accomplish what the President claimed to be its goal. Read this article by Real Clear Politics writer George Will. Here are a couple of snippets:
The purpose of the surge, they said, is to by time -- "breathing space," the president says -- for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?"
Of course, there has been some Iraqi political progress - they took August off. Some more from the article:

The progress that Petraeus reports in improving security in portions of Iraq is real. It might, however, have two sinister aspects. First, measuring sectarian violence is problematic: The Washington Post reports that a body with a bullet hole in the front of the skull is considered a victim of criminality; a hole in the back of the skull is evidence of sectarian violence. But even if violence is declining, that might be partly because violent sectarian cleansing has separated Sunni and Shiite communities. This homogenization of hostile factions -- trained and armed by U.S. forces -- may bear poisonous fruit in a full-blown civil war. Second, brutalities by al-Qaeda in Iraq have indeed provoked some Sunni leaders to collaborate with U.S. forces. But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy.
In other words, the surge might not have been as effective as advertised (then again, it might be - we don't know). Perhaps the more important question, as Mr. Will suggested, is "If the surge indeed is working, why didn't the President go to Baghdad during his surprise visit?" And the question to be asked regarding the return of the troops is "Why are you selling us a car you sold a year ago and telling us it's new?"

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