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, Gen. 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.
Administration and military officials acknowledge that the September report will not show any significant progress on the political benchmarks laid out by Congress. How to deal in the report with the lack of national reconciliation between Iraq’s warring sects has created some tension within the White House.
And as we later see, it’s not Gen. Petraeus who will be providing the definition:
Despite Bush’s repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report’s data.
Makes one wonder if “liberal war critics” O’Hanlon and Pollack’s recent infomercial extolling the virtues of escalation was deliberately intended to soften expectations prior to the release of the
White House Petraeus report (especially considering the US military all but commissioned the fucking tour). Regardless, anyone who thinks the Bushies were ever prepared to offer a candid, frank assessment of the actual situation on the ground probably also thought that Petraeus was going to be more than a convenient Powell-like figurehead.
Once again the White House is treating the lives of Iraqis and US soldiers as political cannon fodder.
Under pressure from the Congress, Arab states and Sunni Iraqi leaders, the US administration on Tuesday set the stage for “major” political changes in Iraq.
The changes will be in “the structure, nature and direction of the Iraqi state,” a senior American official in Baghdad was quoted by AP as saying.
He did not give out details, but the plan is expected to be high on the agenda of a ‘crisis summit’ which would be attended by key Iraqi leaders who seek to save the crumbling national unity government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
The summit had been in question until a last-minute push from US Ambassador Ryan Crocker who called on Al Hashemi. Sunni leaders and some Arab countries have reportedly accused Al Maliki of sectarian bias and harbouring close ties with Iran.
Pat Lang has more.