We spoke last night, in the comments to Jimbo's post, about the push to end the Surge before September. I pointed to the NYT's latest atrocity, in which unnamed sources suggested that the Bush administration was debating a pullback from the Surge; this was a mirror image of their atrocity of the last week, in which unnamed sources promised that the Bush administration was debating closing Gitmo. Just like the last time, the story is plainly wrong.
So, today, what do we have in the news?
One likely result of the report will be a vastly accelerated debate among President Bush's top aides on withdrawing troops and scaling back the U.S. presence in Iraq.
The "pivot point" for addressing the matter will no longer be Sept. 15, as initially envisioned, when a full report on Bush's so-called "surge" plan is due, but instead will come this week when the interim mid-July assessment is released, the official said.
Really, you don't say? No longer willing to wait until September?
Well, what else is there today?
The day after the most fatal bomb yet in Iraq? As the maximal troop surge in Baquba still saw up to 80 percent of the insurgents flee to fight another day?
Oh, and another AP report: "Will Turkey Invade Northern Iraq?"
Reports that Turkey has massed a huge military force on its border with Iraq bolstered fears that an invasion targeting hideouts of Kurdish rebels could be imminent.
All right, let's take these in reverse order.
Will Turkey invade Iraq? Yes, if we pull out. No, if they'd have to deal with US forces. I think that's fairly, flatly plain. Not because Turkey is an ally, which they are, but because they know what the consequences would be of tangling with the US military in conventional operations.
What does it mean that a huge bomb could blow up over a hundred innocent people, mostly women, children, and the elderly? It means this: that over a hundred women, children, and the elderly were gathered in a local market. Iraq is a culture that knows how to cloister its women in times of danger; the Shi'ite regions were used to Saddam. The fact that so many innocents were gathered in one place is a sign of their confidence in their safety -- a confidence al Qaeda used to murder.
What noble victory, to slaughter such innocents. Surely that is the mark of a strong foe. But how many markets saw a similar turnout that day, and suffered no violence?
What does it mean that 80 percent of al Qaeda's leadership abandoned their recruits, and fled before the US Army? Strong work, that.
Iraq "missed its targets," we are told, and that surely must mean an end to our fight -- now, right now, before September. And yet Surge operations -- as opposed to the build-up -- are less than a month old. What was the point of those operations?
It will be a long, hard summer, with much pain and loss to come, and things could still go either way. But the population-centric approach is the beginning of a process that aims to put the overall campaign onto a sustainable long-term footing. The politics of the matter then can be decisive, provided the Iraqis use the time we have bought for them to reach the essential accommodation. The Embassy and MNF-I continue to work on these issues at the highest levels but fundamentally, this is something that only Iraqis can resolve: our role is to provide an environment in which it becomes possible.
The whole point of the Surge is to address this particular problem. It is six months in the making, if you count from the start of the buildup. If the politicos in Washington set goals that Iraq could not realize, that is their own fault. It is the fault of those whose goals were set without bothering to take any account of military reality.
We've got people who are risking their lives every day to give Iraq the chance embodied by the Surge. There are 25 million people in Iraq whose lives depend on the outcome. These games in DC and among the press, they are beyond reprehensible. Real lives are at stake here -- better lives than the ones lived by these politicians and journalists.