Sunday, July 13, 2008

If Present Trends Continue

Winning the war in Iraq should take priority over sparing the Army the stress of winning the war. We should not draw down strength too fast and risk our accumulating victory. But with victory we can begin to draw down.

This could be good:

No final decisions have been made, but at least one and as many as three of the 15 combat brigades now in Iraq could be withdrawn, or slated for withdrawal, by the end of the administration in January, the Times said, citing officials.

The White House declined to discuss the withdrawals, but spokesman Gordon Johndroe told the newspaper that while the president hoped to bring more troops home, he would await the recommendation in September of Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, the Times said.

I won't cheer yet, since at the beginning of 2005 it looked like we could be down to 10 combat brigades and 100,000 troops in Iraq by the end of that year. Unfortunately, the Mahdi Army arose as a threat despite Iraqi promises that Sadr could be dealt with in the political arena. So we could not reduce our troops. And in the beginning of 2006, the Sadrists and al Qaeda seriously tried to ignite all-out civil war. We ended up increasing strength in 2007 in response.

But the prediction is much more near term and so more possible since there is less time for our reduced enemies to undermine the current conditions that make withdrawal possible. And there is less time for a new battlefield enemy to emerge to wreck the good trends visible the last ten months.

I'll be cautious and say that we are down to 14 combat brigades by January 2009. In no small measure, we will want to guard against a new president determined to withdraw as fast as possible.

We are winning this war despite the claims of the anti-war side that we are doomed to defeat. At some point we will be able to draw down combat troops.

But our anti-war side knows less about war than I know about lesbian hand puppet theater. You never listened to them, did you?