Stay And Leave

Ken AshfordBush & Co., IraqLeave a Comment

I’m glad I’m not the only one confused.

Bush gave another "stay the course in Iraq" speech yesterday.  Which I would expect him to do.

But then there’s this story from today’s Financial Times:

The US is expected to pull significant numbers of troops out of Iraq in the next 12 months in spite of the continuing violence, according to the general responsible for near-term planning in the country.

Maj Gen Douglas Lute, director of operations at US Central Command, yesterday said the reductions were part of a push by Gen John Abizaid, commander of all US troops in the region, to put the burden of defending Iraq on Iraqi forces.

Seems like a bit of a disconnect there. 

Garance Franke-Ruta over at Tapped offers a possible explanation:

I wonder if what we’re in fact seeing is a White House strategy of maximizing harm to domestic political opponents (by continuing to cast them as peaceniks unwilling to defend America) while slowly bowing to public opinion (which has turned against the war). For all his vaunted stubbornness, the president has actually changed course and bowed to public opinion on numerous occasions in the past (creating the Department of Homeland Security, for example, and establishing the September 11 commission and allowing Condoleezza Rice to testify before it), but in every one of those instances he has ultimately managed to spin the shift in his favor. A political strategy of using the next six to nine months to continue to paint the Democrats as weak on national security, to be followed by a declaration of success and public return of some significant fraction — but not all — troops in advance of the mid-term elections, to be followed in turn by attacks on anti-war Democrats who wanted the United States to pull out "too early" and before the job was done, doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.

Sounds very plausible to me.