Saturday, May 26

Bush mulling troop reduction in 2008?

ould the Bush Administration be considering reversing course on the surge and reducing troop level drastically in 2008?

According to the NYTimes maybe...

WASHINGTON, May 25 — The Bush administration is developing what are described as concepts for reducing American combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, according to senior administration officials in the midst of the internal debate.

It is the first indication that growing political pressure is forcing the White House to turn its attention to what happens after the current troop increase runs its course

You mean after The Surge ™ eventually fails miserably?

Now, I was just beaten severely about the head and shoulders for suggesting that Democrats hadn't completely lost their minds and simply caved in to electoral terror by voting for the string-less Iraq supplemental. (Feeling should be returning to my extremeties any week now...) My point then was that this war simply will not end until Republicans finally start to realize and admit just what a catastrofuck it's become.

I wasn't expecting to say I told you so so quickly, and in fact, I'm not yet prepared to say it now - but this is indeed interesting news.

The concepts call for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels by the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000, the latest available figure, which the military reported on May 1. They would also greatly scale back the mission that President Bush set for the American military when he ordered it in January to win back control of Baghdad and Anbar Province.

The mission would instead focus on the training of Iraqi troops and fighting Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, while removing Americans from many of the counterinsurgency efforts inside Baghdad.

Call me dense, but aren't these "concepts" amazingly similar to what Bush vetoed just a few weeks ago? Even though there's no Timetable or Benchmark for the Iraqi government - it's like, if the surge fails we scale back to focusing on training the iraqi's to fight for themselves, and the mere thousand or so Al Qeada fighters that are actually there.

But perhaps we shouldn't get our hopes up too fast, the deciderer guy hasn't signed on just yet.

Still, there is no indication that Mr. Bush is preparing to call an early end to the current troop increase, and one reason officials are talking about their long-range strategy may be to blunt pressure from members of Congress, including some Republicans, who are pushing for a more rapid troop reduction.

Republicans calling for troop reduction you say? Do tell.

This just all might be a load of hype, naturally. It's not like anybody with any real clout is pressing this issue is it?

Officials say proponents of reducing the troops and scaling back their mission next year appear to include Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They have been joined by generals at the Pentagon and elsewhere who have long been skeptical that the Iraqi government would use the opportunity created by the troop increase to reach genuine political accommodations.

Ok, that's clout. But just who is very conspicuous by his absense from this list?

Darth Cheney.

What we might be seeing is the beginning of the internal melt-down with Gates, Rice the Generals and the Congress (Democrat and Republicans) in one corner - and Bush and Cheney in the other. I'd heat up some popcorn for that fight.

But this isn't the first time such a plan has been floated as Thinkprogress points out.

FLASHBACK: New York Times, June 24, 2006:

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

So since we've already been down this yellow-pee stained brick road with Toto and the Tin man before - I'm not ready to say this is a "Slam Dunk", but it is promising. Instead of continuing with the Surge, and the Super Secret Double Surge into next year - we just might be looking at some significant troop reductions and reprioritizing of the mission in Iraq to where it should be. Standing the Iraqi troops up on thier feet, so we can get the heck out of dodge.

Crossing all fingers and toes.


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