Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Dubya's first term, when the nation was still high on testosterone fumes, he called himself "Commander in Chief" so often that the job title "President" started to seem passé.

Now, of course, whenever anyone questions his strategy in Iraq, he's just following orders from General David Petraeus.

So, it's naturally of interest to know what Petraeus has to say in Congress. You can find plenty of it detected, selected, and rejected on other blogs. As for myself, my attention was regrettably diverted by other matters of pressing national interest (and if the home opener isn't of pressing interest to Red Sox nation, I don't know what is) --- but I did catch a bit of the beginning, and was rather struck by the exchange between Petraeus and Senator Carl Levin.

On one point, Petraeus stonewalled for a while before finally admitting that the coalition of Iranian-sponsored militias that we're calling an Iraqi government had "not adequately planned and prepared" their attack on the rival militia of Muqtada al-Sadr. (To summarize briefly: they attacked, and quickly got humiliated, as a lot of their own force either refused to fight or defected to the Sadrist side. After a week, Sadr graciously allowed them to stop, having conceded nothing.)

So, how's our own planning for, say, the further troop withdrawals that everyone says they'd like to see if the "surge" actually creates the conditions of political stability that it was supposed to? After a comical exchange about how long he'd need to just "assess" the situation (three months? four months? more? Petraeus wouldn't say), we get this:

LEVIN: Now, next question, if all goes well -- if all goes well, what would be the approximate number of our troops there at the end of the year?

Let's assume conditions permitted things to move quickly. What, in your estimate, would be the approximate number of American troops there at the end of the year?

Can you give us a -- just say if you can't give us an estimate.

PETRAEUS: Sir, I can't -- I can't give you an estimate on that.

So, it would appear that there is no plan.

Unless, of course, the plan is to leave the troops all in on any excuse, and pass the buck...


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