Whooops! Defense Link says it may be too soon to talk about a drawdown in forces.
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2006 – It's still too soon for the Defense Department to announce troops withdrawals from Iraq, particularly with Iraq's defense and interior ministers yet to be named, a defense spokesman told Pentagon reporters today.
In the meantime, U.S. troop deployment plans will remain on schedule and no troop withdrawals are imminent, Whitman said today.
"As we have always said, the coalition forces on the ground - the numbers and capabilities that we bring to bear - will be based on conditions on the ground," Whitman said. "So as conditions change, that will give an opportunity for us to make adjustments to that."
Awaiting further developments ...
George Bush and Tony Blair are to discuss in Washington this week a programme of troop withdrawals from Iraq that will be much faster and more ambitious than originally planned. In a phased pullout in which the two countries will act in tandem, Britain is to begin with a handover to Iraqi security forces in Muthanna province in July and the Americans will follow suit in Najaf, the Shia holy city. Other withdrawals will quickly follow over the remainder of the year. Officials in both administrations hope that Britain's 8,000 forces in Iraq can be down to 5,000 by the end of the year and that the American forces will be reduced from 133,000 to about 100,000.
Cake or Death thinks the withdrawal, if the Guardian article is accurate, will be portrayed as "vote pandering". And that's probably the way it will be portrayed.
I dunno... I'm sure they've got good intel and the word of officers on the ground in Iraq to support a sped up schedule of withdrawal of troops, but it smells of political posturing... bringing troops home 4 months before an election. And if I think that sounds like vote pandering, you know the Democrats will hammer him for it. He better have talking points ready and generals by his side when he says them to back him up saying things are good on the ground, Iraqi security forces are ready, and they've been doing most of the heavy lifting in the area for "X" amount of time. Hopefully having a former member of the press in Tony Snow heading up press relations will help lead to a better prepared Dubya. He needs to have the full arsenal ready the first time. If he does what he has been doing, drawing the discussion out over weeks and months, letting the pundits get a hold of it and chew on it for weeks, he's going to get hammered in the polls. Again.
The Booman Tribune says it’s defeat disguised as victory.
It would be better if Bush and Blair used their joint press conference to dramatically lower expectations for the end result in Iraq. They should acknowledge that the new government is going to have grave difficulties maintaining order and providing security after we pull out. They should warn us, and the Iraqis, that there is a high risk that the current parliament will break up as minority parties respond to heavy handed efforts to provide security by resigning from the government.
Then they should announce a much fuller withdrawal plan...one that will have all allied troops out of Iraq by the year's end, unless the Iraqi government makes a request that we stay in limited numbers in a supporting role.
When we actually leave, we would like it to appear to be by mutual agreement, not as a result of an inability to sustain our effort, or tantamount to a surrender to jihadists. The time to make that case is now. We should declare a limited victory, of sorts, in that the Iraqis have held elections and seated a government. We should announce our intention to abide by U.N. Resolution 1546, which calls for an end of the occupation by December 31st, 2006, unless otherwise requested by the Iraqi government. We should make it clear that the mission has been harder than expected, and that we have been unable to create conditions that will assure the success and future unity of Iraq.
Bush and Blair should show some humility, lay out the worst-case sceanrios, and implore the international community to be supportive of the Iraqi central government as they struggle to assert their dominance. No one should be under any illusions that the Iraqi government can do this without resorting to tactics that will be rightfully condemned by human rights organizations. Bush should also make absolutely clear that we have no intention of keeping permanent air bases or garrisons on Iraqi soil without the consent of the Iraqis (a possible exception might be made for Kurdistan, by the consent of the Kurdish government).
If they fail to do this, we will find ourselves in a vice created by Resolution 1546, whereby we will either be asked to leave and refuse, or will be asked to stay, and the government will lose all credibility. Moreover, we will become enmeshed in a giant ethnic cleansing effort on the side of Shiites against the Sunnis. This will be disastrous for more than humanitarian reasons. All of our regional allies are Sunni, while Iran is Shiite. We will shatter our regional alliances.
The damage is largely done. But only by announcing an intent to carry out a complete drawdown now can we limit the fallout and go some small way towards innoculating ourselves from the full measure of responsibility for the enormous tragedy that is about to ensure in Iraq. It's not much to cling to, but it beats being there on the ground contributing to the carnage, actively alienating our allies, and nonethesless, being forced to leave under even worse conditions that cannot be spun as anything less than total defeat.
This development has got to confuse the hell out of everybody. America is defeated in Iraq, hasn't everyone gotten the word? Withdrawal has got to be some kind of trick because it's impossible that it could be anything else than a retreat. A rout, a massacre. As in Retreat from Kabul, with Dr. Brydon the sole survivor of Lord Elphinstone's army and not Retreat, Hell! starring Richard Carlson and Frank Lovejoy.
Well, let's see what happens.