...How long must we stay under the Petraeus plan? Perhaps 10 years. At least five. In any case, long after George W. Bush has returned to Crawford, Texas, for good.While the GOP is offering rosy assessments about our winning in Iraq, we all know that just isn't true. This is something that will take a very long time to work itself out. We can no longer say, "wait 6 months to see if it gets better"
To a degree little understood by the U.S. public, Petraeus is engaged in a giant “do-over.” It is a near-reversal of the approach taken by Petraeus’s predecessor as commander of multinational forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, until the latter was relieved in early February, and most other top U.S. commanders going back to Rick Sanchez and Tommy Franks. Casey sought to accelerate both the training of Iraqi forces and American withdrawal. By 2008, the remaining 60,000 or so U.S. troops were supposed to be hunkering down in four giant “superbases,” where they would be relatively safe. Under Petraeus’s plan, a U.S. military force of 160,000 or more is setting up hundreds of “mini-forts” all over Baghdad and the rest of the country, right in the middle of the action.
And that means the future of Iraq depends on the long-term presence of U.S. forces in a way it did not just a few months ago. “We’re putting down roots,” says Philip Carter, a former U.S. Army captain who returned last summer from a year of policing and training in the hot zone around Baquba. “The Americans are no longer willing to accept failure in order to put Iraqis in the lead. You can’t let the mission fail just for the sake of diplomacy.”
Thursday, February 22, 2007
A Realistic Assessment
Oddly enough, this doesn't classify as realism in professional punditry. If you offer crazy predictions you are seen as serious, and if you offer serious predictions you are seen as crazy. Fortunately, Newsweek has made an earnest attempt to say something crazy. Michael Hirsch predicts that we are going to be in Iraq for a very long time: