Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province.
According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress, when both the war's critics and supporters plan to reassess its course. Administration officials who support the current troop levels hope Petraeus' recommendations will persuade Congress to reject pressure for a major U.S. withdrawal.
The expected recommendation would authorize U.S. commanders to withdraw troops from places that have become less violent and turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.
But it does not necessarily follow that Petraeus would call for reducing the overall number of troops in the country. Instead, he could move them to another hot spot, or use them to create a reserve force to counter any rise in violence.
So, no real diminishment in forces. Instead, forces will be shifted around to bolster the illusion that parts of Iraq have been brought to peace, and that will be done to try and stave off any press for a real troop draw down in Congress. This strategy should be referred to less as a "surge" and more as a "finger in the dike" approach. As other military commanders quoted in the article point out, areas that have seen draw downs of American forces and a turnover of security to Iraqi forces have eventually reverted to violence. This is because the conditions that create such violence are not solved by a temporary press against insurgents; such conditions cannot be solved militarily. The problem is-always-that there were never enough troops in Iraq to enforce stability and peace long enough to foster political progress. If that was ever possible with any number of troops, it's certainly impossible now with the number of troops we have (and military commanders seem to be coming around to that fact.) So the September "progress report" will, as all these reports have in the past, be aimed at mollifying critics of the war at home, and not about any real change in Iraq.