Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Expect Nothing But Another Friedman from the Petraeus Report

Ever since the great and glorious "surge" was announced, all the wise and serious men and women of Washington have been proclaiming that we only needed to give this war one last chance until September, and THEN we could finally start talking about pulling out of Iraq. "Wait for Petraeus' report," they'd say.

Big surprise that the Petraeus report will actually be written by the White House, those same folks who let us know long ago that President Bush has no intention of leaving as long as he is President:
Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.

The senior administration official said the process had created "uncomfortable positions" for the White House because of debates over what constitutes "satisfactory progress."

During internal White House discussion of a July interim report, some officials urged the administration to claim progress in policy areas such as legislation to divvy up Iraq's oil revenue, even though no final agreement had been reached. Others argued that such assertions would be disingenuous.

"There were some in the drafting of the report that said, 'Well, we can claim progress,' " the administration official said. "There were others who said: 'Wait a second. Sure we can claim progress, but it's not credible to . . . just neglect the fact that it's had no effect on the ground.' "

The Defense official skeptical of the troop buildup said he expected Petraeus to emphasize military accomplishments, including improving security in Baghdad neighborhoods and a slight reduction in the number of suicide bomb attacks. But the official said he did not believe such security improvements would translate into political progress or improvements in the daily lives of most Iraqis.

"Who cares how many neighborhoods of Baghdad are secured?" the official said. "Let's talk about the rest of the country: How come they have electricity twice a day, how come there is no running water?"
Anyone want to take bets that the report finds signs of "progress" in every major area, and that we just need to stick with it for another "6 months" for everything to progress even further?


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