Bush And CENTCOM Continue To Send Mixed Messages
“We believe at some point, in order to break this dependence on the . . . coalition, you simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward. You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country.”
--Maj Gen Douglas Lute, of CENTCOM, yesterday, telling the Financial Times that significant troop reductions will take place over the next year.
"An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations. So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror."
--Bush, yesterday, preening in front of the Idaho National Guard, where he has a +23% approval rating
“Any suggestion that there is disagreement between the President and our military commanders in Iraq is absurd…we are all on the same page when it comes to our strategy of standing up Iraqi forces so we can stand down our forces. We have always said troop levels will be determined by our commanders, based on conditions on the ground.”
--Scott McClellan, yesterday
If the White House is befuddled as to why voters aren’t clear on our plans in Iraq, they need look no farther than examples like this. And with the constitution process bogging down today when the Parliament missed its own deadline to work out its differences, this may get worse before it ever gets better.