Mr. Bush also failed to mention one of the principal reasons for the drawdown of troops he announced. The president said that the tactical military successes meant that American forces could be reduced in the coming year to pre-surge levels. What he didn't say is that the Pentagon has no choice other than to carry out the withdrawals, unless Mr. Bush resorts to politically explosive steps such as further extending deployments. Another way of describing Mr. Bush's plan is that it leaves every available Army and Marine unit in place in Iraq for as long as possible. If the war were going worse than it is, the deployment schedule probably couldn't have been much different.
Right. Our President is trying to take credit for an inevitable drawdown in forces by claiming they are being brought home as a result of the success of the surge, while at the same time making no promises to reduce forces below pre-surge levels. From this, and from the failure of political progress in Iraq, the editors at the Post arrive at this conclusion:
Mr. Bush's plan offers, at least, the prospect of extending recent gains against al-Qaeda in Iraq, preventing full-scale sectarian war and allowing Iraqis more time to begin moving toward a new political order. For that reason, it is preferable to a more rapid withdrawal. It's not necessary to believe the president's promise that U.S. troops will "return on success" in order to accept the judgment of Mr. Crocker: "Our current course is hard. The alternatives are far worse."
Huh? I don't know if this qualifies as willful ignorance of flat-out stupidity, but absolutely none of the available and impartial evidence in the world indicates that the surge plan, and the new "strategy" of bringing home troops who have to come home anyway while continuing the indefinite occupation of Iraq, indicates that such an approach offers anything like the "prospect" of bringing stability to Iraq, except in the sense miners prospecting for gold used the word. The problem is the editors unthinkingly accept the premises that a) if we leave things will get much, much worse and b) if we stay, things will at least not get any worse. I won't speak to the first as it's unnecessary except as a rhetorical device for the war supporters, and regardless the second is the one that should control our decisions on the war. Quite simply, all indications in Iraq are that it will descend into further violence and instability even if we maintain our forces in the greatest numbers possible, for we don't possess the military might or the political acuity to prevent it. THIS is the central fact of the war, and it's one that's all too easily dismissed in the minds of those who feel some moral obligation to the Iraqis, fear a future in which our forces are not present in Iraq, or simply won't admit to being wrong. The sins of omission our President commits on a regulars basis in his speeches do nothing to bring peace to Iraq, and do everything to prevent us from making a rational decision on the war, which is why it's beyond my understanding that in the same editorial in which the editors decry President Bush's two-facedness, they accept the indefinite presence in Iraq he offers us.
It's time for real change in Iraq, not inevitable deployments masked as a change in strategy, and the editors of the Post at this point ought to know better.