Saturday, June 02, 2007

Iraq War Update

From ABC News via Atrios:

U.S. officials tell ABC News that the troop levels in Iraq cannot be maintained at the present level, either politically or practically, with the military stretched so thin.

But that does not imply an immediate drawdown. Officials tell ABC's Martha Raddatz the senior commanders in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno and Gen. David Petraeus -- want the surge to continue until at least December, and expect to report enough progress by September to justify the extension.

The drawdown would begin in February 2008, although each of the two generals supports a slightly different plan. Plan one, which officials say is being pushed by Odierno, calls for a reduction in troops from roughly 150,000 today to 100,000 by December of 2008.

Petraeus champions a slightly different approach that would be to cut the troops down to roughly 130,000 by the end of 2008, with further reductions the following year.

So it is clear, as it has been for awhile now, that the infamous September report by Petraeus will be another call for more time with the "surge" strategy. But it's hard to see how that is justified when the month of May saw that highest U.S. troop casualties since the battle of Fallujah and the highest spike in the civilian death toll since the beginning of the escalation in February.

Meanwhile, General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina from 1994 to 1995, said coalition forces in Iraq were facing an impossible situation and said there is "no way" the war in Iraq can be won by the United States and its allies. He also called for the troops to be withdrawn and that announcing a withdrawal date would, indeed, help to dampen down the violence between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions.

"Give them a date and it is amazing how people and political parties will stop fighting each other and start working towards a peaceful transfer of power," he said.
Whether Congress will follow through on forcing withdrawal after the next vote on supplemental spending in September remains to be seen.

Rose, who has written a book on the American War of Independence, went on to make comparisons with the Iraq War:

"How was it a small and extremely determined body of insurgents, thieves and deserters could inflict such a strategic and potentially disastrous defeat on the most powerful nation in the world?

"The answer will be familiar to anybody who is looking at what is happening in Iraq today.

"Those who don't read history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past."

He said the allies in Iraq should have deployed more troops and not used a conventional war strategy.

"You don't win wars by regime change but by changing attitudes," he said.

He said that Iraq should have been low on the priority list compared to Afghanistan, conflicts in Africa and the battle against international terrorists.
Can we put this guy in charge?

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that insurgents are systematically targeting infrastructure and their attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq are growing in lethality and complexity, as yet another report comes out that CIA analysts in 2002 described the worst-case scenarios of post-invasion Iraq, including anarchy and global antipathy toward the U.S. The Bush administration can't say they weren't warned of what might happen.

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