Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Petraeus Pullback?

I gotta admit, this story gives me the vapors:

Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush Administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province.

According to the officials, General David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress, when both the war's critics and supporters plan to reassess its course. Administration officials who support the current troop levels hope Petraeus' recommendations will persuade Congress to reject pressure for a major U.S. withdrawal.

The expected recommendation would authorize U.S. commanders to withdraw troops from places that have become less violent and turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.

But it does not necessarily follow that Petraeus would call for reducing the overall number of troops in the country. Instead, he could move them to another hot spot, or use them to create a reserve force to counter any rise in violence.

That last graf is somewhat reassuring. Without that clarification the story sounds like the Bushies are so eager to demonstrate the progress made by the "Surge" that they'd start bringing troops home prematurely in an effort to trump the cut & run crowd for domestic political consumption. With the GOP facing an uphill, twilight struggle to stave off total electoral decimation a year and change from now, the compulsion for such a move would be overpowering.

Still, this recommendation, fairly or unfairly, does bear the outward stink of previous pull-outs after victorious battles with the terrorists that allowed the enemy to return and resume its rein of medievalist terror. The whole point of the "Surge" strategy was to increase the "footprint" of U.S. military presence in the "hot spots" in Iraq and keep it there in order to make such ebb & flow impossible. It's difficult to see how things are markedly different this time, other than (hopefully) that the jihadis are "more" defeated than on previous occasions, and Iraqi forces are more prepared to hold that territory once we step back.

One big difference is the hearts & minds factor. The "Surge"'s one distinctive success has been the winning over of Sunni tribal chieftains and unifying them into a united Iraqi front against al Qaeda and its Iranian allies. The enemy's barbarism has been a great help in that regard. The "insurgents" who once battled us have been shown what life after "victory" would be like (e.g. parents forced to literally consume the cannibalized flesh of their own children), and surprise, surprise, surprise, the American "occupation" started looking not so bad by comparison. A nice little bit of local PR jiu-jitsu, that.

Will the equivalent be true on Capitol Hill next month? Probably not to the extent of changing the hearts & minds of Democrats who have invested everything in a self-inflicted American catastrophe. But perhaps enough to stiffen enough Republican spines that the Donks can't override a Bush veto of another legislative move to complete the transformation of Iraq (and Afghanistan, eventually) into Vietnam II.

Short of simply defunding the war, of course, a limb out on which they have been unwilling to venture without "bipartisan" cover. Indeed, as El Rushbo has been arguing this week, some Donk strategists, fearing another McGovernesque electoral debacle, are trying to get their party "oriented to supporting the war by the end of the year, November, December, [because] that's when the electoral season begins." Even the New York Times ran a piece the other day admitting that, far from being a quick, blithe, and happy-go-lucky race back to Kuwait, withdrawal from Iraq - the political life-blood of the far Left - "may take years". Anybody think THAT is what the nutroots want to hear? Anybody want to contemplate how they'll react when the majority they think THEY put into power not only doesn't pull the plug on the war, but becomes complicit in prolonging it - all for the sake of "winning at all costs," which is Markos Moulitsas' own motto?

I'll tell you what they'll do: sit down, shut up, and do what Hillary tells them. Or they'll become irrelevant, the nutroot concept of hell.

Besides, once Mrs. Clinton is back in the Oval Office with veto-proof Donk majorities, she'll be able to pull the plug on the war with impunity anyway, "Surge" or no "Surge". I guess "Truther" self-esteem will ride on whether taking credit for another self-inflicted defeat in a war we cannot escape is more important to the Kos-hacks and DUmmies than the defeat itself.

Maybe after she sacks and kangaroo-court-martials General Petraeus, but before she packages him up for shipment to the Hague for war crime trials, President Rodham will have him bound and gagged and thrown into a room full of rabid Code Pinksters high on angel dust. That'd probably be a sufficient nutter consolation prize.

Who says the Clintons don't understand "constituent service"?