Monday, September 10, 2007

We Are Never Going To Leave Iraq

In 12-18 months, we will be asked to give the next U.S. commander in Iraq enough time and the benefit of the doubt that his plan will work.

And then the one after him.

The top American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, has recommended that decisions on the contentious issue of reducing the main body of the American troops in Iraq be put off for six months, American officials said Sunday.

General Petraeus, whose long-awaited testimony before Congress will begin Monday, has informed President Bush that troop cuts may begin in mid-December, with the withdrawal of one of the 20 American combat brigades in Iraq, about 4,000 troops. By August, the American force in Iraq would be down to 15 combat brigades, the force level before Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcement plan.

The precise timing of such reductions, which would leave about 130,000 troops in Iraq, could vary, depending on conditions in the country. But the general has also said that it is too soon to present recommendations on reducing American forces below that level because the situation in Iraq is in flux. He has suggested that he wait until March to outline proposals on that question. ...

A White House official said Mr. Bush and General Petraeus had not spoken since they saw each other in Anbar Province last Monday. But the general’s recommendations on how to proceed on reducing the force have been outlined to Mr. Bush and senior officers. ...

Mr. Bush has said he intends to address the nation this week about the recommendations by General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker. From the start, General Petraeus, more so than many lawmakers, has viewed the attempt to bring security to Iraq as a long-term effort. The classified campaign plan he prepared with Mr. Crocker calls for restoring security in local areas by the summer of 2008. “Sustainable security” is to be established nationwide by the summer of 2009.

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