Wednesday, May 09, 2007

So Much For September

Yesterday, the Washington Post told us this:

Congressional leaders from both political parties are giving President Bush a matter of months to prove that the Iraq war effort has turned a corner, with September looking increasingly like a decisive deadline.

In that month, political pressures in Washington will dovetail with the military timeline in Baghdad. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, has said that by then he will have a handle on whether the current troop increase is having any impact on political reconciliation between Iraq's warring factions. And fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1, will almost certainly begin with Congress placing tough new strings on war funding.

Today, the Washington Post tells us this:

The Pentagon announced yesterday that 35,000 soldiers in 10 Army combat brigades will begin deploying to Iraq in August as replacements, making it possible to sustain the increase of U.S. troops there until at least the end of this year.

U.S. commanders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that heightened troop levels, announced by President Bush in January, will need to last into the spring of 2008. The military has said it would assess in September how well its counterinsurgency strategy, intended to pacify Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, is working.

"The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," said Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq. The new requirement of up to 15-month tours for active-duty soldiers will allow the troop increase to last until spring, said Odierno, who favors keeping experienced forces in place for now.

"What I am trying to do is to get until April so we can decide whether to keep it going or not," he said in an interview in Baghdad last week. "Are we making progress? If we're not making any progress, we need to change our strategy. If we're making progress, then we need to make a decision on whether we continue to surge."

Let's get the sham over with already - September is going to come and the preznut is going to say "My military commanders tell me we won't know until April if the surge is working or not, so let's give this plan a chance to work and give the troops the funds they need to do the job."

And these same Repubs (like John Boehner) who first said May would be the date when we would have an indication of whether the preznut's surge policy is working or not who are now saying September is the decisive deadline to see if it's working will then say we'll have to wait until April of '08 to see if it's working.

And then April of '08 will come and we will hear from the preznut that presidential politics has entered the mix and nothing important can be changed in the Iraq policy until after the election.

That's the real schedule the preznut wants. We'll see if the Republicans in Congress, especially the "moderate" and potentially endangered ones like Jim Gerlach (R-Penn) or Susan Collins (R-Maine) go along with it. Given their track record for rubber stamping nearly everything else the preznut has done over the last six years, I suspect that they will have hard time with that decision.

But overall, I bet most Repubs, especially the ones from red states and red districts, will hold onto the preznut's policy for dear life, realizing that even if they turn on Bush now they are still going to get tarred as Rubber Stamp Bushies anyway.

So forget September. The real date is January 20, 2009.

Unless a Republican like McCain, Romney or Rudy wins, of course.

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