Friday, February 23, 2007

This Newsweek article by Michael Hirsh seems like the biggest news of the past 24 hours:

... what few people seem to have noticed is that Gen. David Petraeus's new "surge" plan is committing U.S. troops, day by day, to a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation. How long must we stay under the Petraeus plan? Perhaps 10 years. At least five....

But don't take my word for it. I'm merely a messenger for a coterie of counterinsurgency experts who have helped to design the Petraeus plan -- his so-called "dream team" -- and who have discussed it with NEWSWEEK, usually on condition of anonymity....

If this is true, then Bush doesn't need a "Plan C" for what happens after the surge because, as far as he's concerned, there is no "after the surge" -- the surge will still be a work in progress that "still needs a chance to work" until the end of his presidency (and President Giuliani will take over from there).

Maybe it doesn't mean that the war is unstoppable, but if there won't be an endpoint to this phase of the war at any time during Bush's term, then any attempt at curtailing the war will be portrayed as curtailing this surge, for years, if Hirsh is right.

On the other hand, there was this last night on ABC:

... Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane ... is one of the architects of the President Bush's new Iraq policy and an ABC News consultant, and spoke with Charles Gibson ...

...Gibson: And you mention that more Iraqi troops are coming online. Do the American commanders, as you meet with them on this trip, have confidence that these are good troops that can eventually take control themselves?

...Keane: In time, they can do this, but first we have to bring the level of violence down. So we'll need well into the summer to make some genuine progress in Baghdad, where people will feel comfortable. It'll probably take into the fall to secure Baghdad.

So Keane says we can see results by fall. But as spring goes on and summer approaches, the light at the end of the tunnel will recede and recede -- from fall to the end of the year, the to '08, maybe beyond that. (It's not as if we have anywhere near the troop strength we need for proper counterinsurgency, even now.) But we'll be told it's a betrayal of the troops to stop this, because it's still the new surge, it's still Plan B, and it'll work if we have the will.

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