A White House Drawdown?

The New York Times reports that the White House has started working on a plan to reduce forces in Iraq, starting next year. However, the Times implies that this reduction represents some reversal on the part of the Bush administration, when it appears to be nothing more than the natural reduction from the surge’s timeline:

The White House plans to use a report next month assessing progress in Iraq to outline a plan for gradual troop reductions beginning next year that would fall far short of the drawdown demanded by Congressional opponents of the war, according to administration and military officials.
One administration official made it clear that the goal of the planned announcement was to counter public pressure for a more rapid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on “a sustainable footing” at least through the end of the Bush presidency.
The officials said the White House would portray its approach as a new strategy for Iraq, a message aimed primarily at the growing numbers of Congressional Republicans who have criticized President Bush’s handling of the war. Many Republicans have urged Mr. Bush to unveil a new strategy, and even to propose a gradual reduction of American troops to the levels before this year’s troop increase — about 130,000 — or even lower to head off Democratic-led efforts to force the withdrawal of all combat forces by early next year.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of their reluctance to discuss internal White House deliberations publicly.

This reduction would be complete by next August, and it would return the Iraq forces to where they were at the time of the surge. All that means is that the surge troops — which have always been considered a temporary allocation — would rotate home on schedule. The Bush administration simply would not replace those units, but would maintain the base deployment for the Iraq war. In fact, since the surge units got completely deployed by the end of May, it would actually fit within the 15-month deployment schedule everyone already knows.
Either the Times wants to sell this as a reversal, or the White House wants to sell it as a sop to Democratic opposition to the war. Either way, it only makes sense as a withdrawal or reduction if people considered the surge elevation as a permanent deployment, which even the Bush administration didn’t request. The surge has always been considered a temporary measure designed to give Iraq enough room to mature its own security forces and to conduct some political reform.
Nevertheless, the salesmanship might work. With more Democrats supporting the continuing effort in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki finally reaching out to Sunnis, the Democrats may need a lifeline for their increasingly tenuous position on the war. A positive report from General David Petraeus will have made it difficult enough to insist on full retreat, and Brian Baird’s move from original war opponent to surge supporter will make it all but impossible. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid need a face-saving measure to allow Congress to continue funding the Iraq War effort, and calling a regular redeployment a victory for their side will probably suffice.

12 thoughts on “A White House Drawdown?”

  1. Look for various Democrats to begin claiming _They_ forced him to do this, even though it is nothing of the sort. It will play very well in their early campaign ads.

  2. Look for various Democrats to begin claiming _They_ forced him to do this, even though it is nothing of the sort. It will play very well in their early campaign ads.

  3. Bush Administration To Continue With Surge Strategy

    The original plan for the troop surge in Iraq involved a time-limited increase in troop-strength followed by a phased drawdown of forces to a level that was congruent with American and Iraqi security needs. Guess what — they are sticking…

  4. Another anonymous source bashing Bush. How original.
    And we can look for various members of the Kool-Aid Krowd to show up here and proclaim that this is “proof” that we are losing in Iraq. Yup – the anti-war movement’s cherished dreams of turning on our TVs tomorrow and seeing helicopters leaving the roof of the American embassy in Iraq with frantic Iraqis clinging to them a la Vietnam are just about to come true. In their minds it’s 1975 all over again.

  5. “Look for the Dems to play “The Black Knight” to Bush’s “King Arthur” come September:”
    The democrats can also play The Knights Who Say ‘Nee’!
    Democrats to the President: “We shall say ‘nee’ again to you if you do not appease us.”

  6. you know, I am really beginning to start to agree with the Democrats that Bush really is a dummy. And I am not being sarcastic.
    Throughout the last 7 years the Dems have been nothing but partisan hacks who have done nothing but attack attack attack. For this analysis to be correct, to let them have any type of limb left to stand on, is absolutely wrong on the Pres part. President Bush should be helping not only to win the White House (to continue his policies) but also undercutting the Dems efforts to retain Congress. And that would mean to force them into another showdown over Iraq. Nancy and Harry were very eager to force our hand 6 months ago, now its time to do it again when the hand we have been dealt is more than a bluff politically.
    Ronald Reagan would say how he learned from Ike that Ike’s biggest regret was not doing everything possible to get NIxon elected in 1960. Reagan helped Bush 41 in every way he could and succeeded. Bush 43 should emulate that and if that means parading around with a sign saying, “I told you so” thats what he should do.

  7. Iraqi’s Step Up, We Step Down Part #2

    “I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us,” Clyburn said. “We, by and large, would be wise to wait on the report.”

  8. I support President Bush’s actions in Iraq and the GWOT, but I’m sick of his “gentleman” shtick. I want him out of office. Let Cheney take over. We need someone who will stand up and publicly humiliate Reid and Pelosi for their defeatism.
    All Bush is doing by throwing a face-saving lifeline to the Democrats is assuring that the country will have to go through this entire fiasco again, at some point in the future.
    He needs to crush the Democrats, to rub their faces in their lies, to destroy them. Not out of revenge, but so that neither party ever again politicizes a war to this extent.
    The Dems’ actions have prolonged the war and cost American lives, yet the president is willing to forgive and forget, to let bygones be bygones out of a spirit of bipartisanship.
    How very big of him.
    Since we’re talking Monty Python, he’s like the oblivious father of the bride in the wedding scene in “The Search for the Holy Grail.”
    “Let’s not quibble over who killed who. This is a happy occasion!”

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