Monday :: Apr 7, 2008

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get More Surreal


by Turkana

The Washington Post reports on the deepening animosity between rival Iraqi Shiite factions, while the Guardian and the Washington Post report that by backing one faction, the Bush Administration strengthened the other. The Los Angeles Times reports on the growing tensions between Iraqi Sunnis and Iraqi Kurds, and also has this telling news:

Rocket attacks killed three American soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, while fighting between Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and U.S.-led forces paralyzed the capital's Sadr City neighborhood and left up to 22 Iraqis dead.

Just hours before the violence erupted, the Iraqi government issued a call for the radical cleric to dissolve his militia. Two U.S. military personnel were killed when rocket fire hit the Green Zone, home to the Iraqi government and the American Embassy. An attack on the Rustamiya base in east Baghdad claimed the life of a third soldier, the military said. The attacks wounded 31 people.

A fourth U.S. soldier died in a roadside bombing in the northeastern province of Diyala, while a fifth was killed in a noncombat incident, the military said.

At least 4,018 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since March 2003, according to the independent website icasualties.org.

Which sets a fine backdrop for the coming testimony before Congress by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. As USA Today reports:

Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other officials have said they support a pause in troop withdrawals after the last of the "surge" forces are scheduled to depart in July. The time would be used to assess conditions once the additional troops leave.

Without a scheduled drawdown for the second half of the year, the Army would have more flexibility to reach its goal of shortening combat tours from 15 months to 12, with a year of rest time between deployments.

Petraeus and commanders in Iraq would be able to make adjustments at that point in determining overall troop levels. For example, the command could allow brigades to return to the USA without a scheduled replacement if security is improving. If troops are needed, the scheduled replacement could deploy to Iraq.

Yes, nearly five years after Mission Accomplished, the U.S. command in Iraq will again make excuses about why it's still necessary to keep some 140,000 troops in Iraq. Indefinitely. As if removing some 20,000 troops, but keeping the rest there indefinitely is some sort of progress.

Some supporters of the surge say commanders will probably need 15 brigades in Iraq through the end of this year. "I have difficulty envisioning continuing to reduce further in 2008," said Jack Keane, a retired Army general who was a chief architect of the strategy.

Keane said the force levels are needed to ensure that security gains in Baghdad, Anbar and other parts of Iraq are maintained, al-Qaeda is defeated in its remaining stronghold of Mosul and there are enough forces to counter Iranian influence in the south.

Iran. Al Qaeda. Boo! And some might ask what security gains those might be, given that more and more people are being killed even in the Green Zone. And just when you think it couldn't get more surreal, it does. Steve Clemons speculates on the politics of 2012:

On another front, I speculated a while back that General David Petraeus may be a Wes Clark in the making for the Republicans -- particularly for the 2012 presidential race.

The possibility of seeing a new General turn President emerge was focused on in the New York Times over the weekend with a nice nod in an article, "Generally Speaking" by Steven Lee Myers to the original piece I wrote. And I stand by it. I do think that much of the country is looking for a new Eisenhower.

Of course, Eisenhower wasn't known for dishonestly playing politics with war. And he was known for winning one. A war that most people thought needed to be fought. A war that liberated occupied nations rather than imposing an occupation on one. A war against the genocidal Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, who were just a tad more dangerous than a defanged and sanctioned Saddam Hussein. In other words, even if the country is, indeed, looking for a new Eisenhower, Petraeus is more reminiscent of Westmoreland. Whom the country had enough of, the first time.

Turkana :: 3:04 PM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!