No Timetables, Please!
General Abizaid told Congress in no uncertain terms that timetables are a bad idea.
None of the Senators evidently listened.
The Washington Post has more:
The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East today cautioned against beginning a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq and recommended that current troop levels be maintained, but he said that all options remain open, including a "temporary" increase to help the Iraqi army become more effective.And how did our fearless deliberators respond?
Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, who heads the U.S. Central Command, told a Senate panel that U.S. commanders on the ground and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki both oppose the idea of significantly boosting U.S. forces in Iraq to help deal with intensifying sectarian violence. The U.S. commanders view such an option as contradicting their efforts to place more responsibility on Iraqi forces, and Maliki has told him it would undermine the government's authority, Abizaid said.
Nevertheless, the general held out the prospect that the U.S. troop levels may need to go up in order to bolster the U.S. "military transition teams" that are "embedded" with Iraqi forces.
Abizaid and the top State Department coordinator for Iraq, David M. Satterfield, also warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that any move to partition Iraq along sectarian lines would lead to a bloodbath and likely result in a safe haven for the al-Qaeda terrorist network in an area controlled by Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority.
In response to questions, Abizaid said the Maliki government must throw its full support behind the Iraqi army and stop accommodating the Shiite Muslim militias that have been battling Iraq's Sunni insurgents. The government is led by Shiites, and the Iraqi police have been heavily infiltrated by Shiite militias.
Well, Senator McCain can't stand the "Status quo"--and wants more troops on the ground:
McCain told Abizaid he was "disappointed that basically you're advocating the status quo here today, which I think the American people in the last election said . . . is not an acceptable condition."Senator Carl Levin, the future chair of the Armed Service Committee, can't stand the "Status Quo"--and wants the troops out in six months:
"Last week, the American people delivered a clear -- indeed, a dramatic -- message to the administration, to the Congress and to the Iraqi government that 'stay the course' is not a strategy for success in Iraq," he said, referring to the midterm elections that gave Democrats control of the House and Senate for the first time in a dozen years.Here's a thought, my fine, elected legislatures: how about you stop prancing like peacocks before the cameras and responsibly engage the CENTCOM Commander. Haven't the commanders' positions been overlooked enough already? Had their reccommendations carried the day, Iraq would more likely be in far better shape than it is right now.
Americans do not accept President Bush's recent claim that "absolutely, we're winning" in Iraq and are "impatient with Iraqi leaders who will not make the political compromises required to blunt the sectarian violence and unite the Iraqi people," Levin said. "They are impatient with Iraqi government leaders who have not disbanded the militias and death squads that are a plague on Iraqi society. And they have lost patience with the Iraqi leaders who won't condemn Sunni-Shia enmity, tribal rivalries and ethnic hatred."
Levin said the United States "should put the responsibility for Iraq's future squarely where it belongs: on the Iraqis," adding, "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."
He urged Bush to tell Iraqi leaders "that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months," a move that he said would not be "precipitous" but would constitute "a responsible way to change the dynamic in Iraq, to stop the march down the path to full-blown civil war on which the Iraqis are now embarked."
I know it's truly difficult, gentlemen, but you can stop campaigning for the moment. 2008 is still two years away. Listen to the advice of the man whom our military has trained to lead our soldiers and fight our wars. It might even help you win!