It’s Not A Drawdown

Tomorrow evening, the President will address the nation. Two days after Patraeus and Crocker delivered their testimony to Congress about the state of Iraq, Bush will make known in an official capacity what he intends to do in Iraq. It is more than likely that he will make a call to pull back one brigade, roughly four thousand troops, and it is likely he will declare this in some way shape or form a result of the successes that we have seen in Iraq.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first thing that must be taken into contention is the simple terminology. Withdrawl. Drawdown. Pullback, or pullout. All of them in this context are not only inadequate, but deliberately false. There are currently over 160,000 troops currently in Iraq, compared to which 4,000 does not even comprise a full three percent of our total forces there. Only by the grossest of distortions would such a change in force numbers be considered anything other than a mild fluctuation in the status quo.

Further, we are under what was ostensibly intended to be a temporary increase of force strength in the country. In this context with the norm troop strength at 130,000 troops, following Bush’s “drawdown”, that still leaves the US presence in Iraq at approximate 156,000 troops, about 12% greater than the norm.

Again, only the most twisted of logics would declare such an order an actual drawdown or withdrawl. But the language is vitally important, and Bush will most likely employ it. The reason for this is obvious; Americans still want to see troops pulled out of Iraq. Polling indicates that a majority of Americans want to see some version of a phazed drawdown in the near future, and the language and actions offered by the administration act as something of a teaser in this regard.

The political implications in the context of this maelstrom of bended logic and obfuscation should not be lost on anyone. Remember, Bush has made it clear that he is “playing for november”, working on making the Iraq War something that at least the Republican candidates feel comfortable pursuing once Bush is out of office.

He wants to make sure Iraq is the gift that keeps on giving.

And to what extent is this to be taken? Well, according to Patraeus, he expects that we should be able to return to presurge levels summer of next year, though he will not be able to make the final assertion until next spring. It is equally likely that whatever “drawdown” decisions are made at that point will most likely be a reflection of the political climate at the time. Given the cyclical nature of the violence in Iraq, and assuming things go according to its mathematical trends, it is at the very least reasonable to assume that there will be an upswing in violence during the winter, leading to more unrest regarding Iraq by the time Patraeus is ready to make his next report.

Since an actual drawdown is unacceptable to this administration and yet it will be politically impossible to carry on without at least pulling more troops from Iraq, it is likely that come spring time there will be more drawdowns, but none that bring us to below our presurge levels.

It is important to know, at this point, that in the interrim, during all of this politically motivated logistical strategizing, that progress in Iraq is not happening, not to any degree that is both long term and stable. We can walk through all the examples of how it fails; how Anbar is in all likelihood an isolated incident, a result of bottom up reconcilliation with a homogenous community that still risks crumbling when coming in contact with actors outside the local community, particularly Shiite forces. There is of course, the Shiite push to consolidate and solidify Shia domination over federal control, and the conflict in regards to Basra and the oil deposits there which pits largely Kurds against Shias.

Indeed, look at the quality of the evidence that Patraeus put forth to Congress. The cherry picking of stats and disqualifying of other stats to make its point. Here’s the no brainer folks, if you have to tool around with the evidence, your point probably isn’t actually true.

Just a thought.

But it is worth noting that while IEDs may not factor into Bush’s calculus, and they may actually see some strange logical reason to diferentiate between those shot in the front of the head and those shot in the back of the head, reality takes a different path.

There has been some progress in Iraq, none of it large, and none of it not highly susceptible to falling apart at the slightest touch. Further, there is little hope that there will be more progress, or stability. And so, taking what we know of both the plan to politically determine troop strength and superimpose that over what we see in Iraq right now, when we cast into our crystal ball, what we see looks very familiar; the exact same place we were back before the surge began.

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