Saturday, August 25, 2007

Change/No Change

In advance of the September progress report in Iraq, pressure is growing for a change of course:

After [Warner's] trip to Iraq this month, which included a meeting with top Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus, Warner said time has run out on the Baghdad government and Bush should make good on his word that the U.S. commitment was not open-ended by announcing a pullout of troops this fall.

The symbolic gesture, he said, could amount to as few as 5,000 of the 160,000 troops in Iraq. The goal would be to pressure Iraqi leaders to make political compromises necessary to tamp down sectarian violence.

It's not only politicians saying that the surge is unsustainable:

The departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half.

Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns that keeping a force of more than 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 would severely strain the military.

Pace's recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which initially expressed skepticism in private about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus before publicly backing it.

According to administration and military officials, the Joint Chiefs believe it is of strategic importance to reduce the size of the U.S. force in Iraq to bolster the military's ability to respond to other threats, a view shared by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The White House response? Predictable:

Despite political pressure for a change of course in Iraq, the White House hopes to keep in place its existing military strategy and troop levels there after the mid-September report from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, administration officials said.

...White House officials said privately that they are not contemplating making major shifts before early next year. They said that next month's report is likely to highlight what they see as significant improvements in security over the past year and that they expect the president to assert that now is not the time to dramatically change approaches.

There are no "metrics" by which the Bush administration will decide that it's time to start bringing troops home. Not the levels of violence in Iraq, not the lack of political progress, and not the slow breaking of the military in Iraq. Only Congressional action will change the course of the war, but unfortunately we are forced to rely upon the Democrats (some of whom also don't think there's anything worth changing) to change the direction of this war.

1 comment:

adam said...

Eh, Warner still says he won't support any binding Congressional action, so who cares what he says until then?