Saturday, March 01, 2008
somehow a connection is made:
This headline is all wrong:
No. The White House just tied troop levels to the U.S. election. See, the provincial elections in Iraq are slated for early October: "If the break in further withdrawals lasts through elections in October, it is likely there will be no fewer than 13 brigades in Iraq by the end of the year." So then another announcement of withdrawal -- a couple brigades, maybe -- gives McCain another round of "See? We return on success, and so this return means... success!" talking-point tautologies in the crucial weeks before the vote. Who does Bush think he's fooling here?

Update: Remix! This post now features the commentary of THFTNR homie and CNAS counterinsurgency expert Colin Kahl.
We will have 140K by the end of July rather than 130K pre-surge (although still 15 brigades--some of the addition support and headquarters troops will remain). Then we will pause, probably until the Iraqi provincial elections that were scheduled to happen by Oct 1 until the recent provincial powers law got vetoed by the Iraqi presidential council (largely b/c VP Abdel Mehdi thought it didn't give enough power to the provinces). Assuming the provincial elections happen, this might allow the administration to announce the withdrawal of 1-2 additional brigades after the Iraqi elections (although the brigades probably won't actually leave until the end of the year/early 2009). Why?

The military reason is the strain on the ground forces and the fierce debate within the Pentagon about appropriate force levels, tour durations in Iraq, and the need for more forces in Afghanistan. This seems to me like a "compromise" aimed at appeasing Mullen, Casey, and perhaps Fallon to get them on board before Petraeus testifies and makes his recommendations in April.
Hot verse.
--Spencer Ackerman