Aftermonths and months of telling the American public and concerned congressmenlike John Murtha that a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistakeand that it would give the "terrorists" or the "enemy" (whoever they are)an advantage to "wait us out" and put our troops in more danger, the administrationhas done just that by announcing that the Iraqi and US governments are workingon just such a plan.
Reuters is a little dodgy on the issue, here,citing that the Bush administration would set up "benchmarks" for the al-Malikigovernment in Iraq, which, if not met, would force the US to reassess theirstrategy in the country.
According to the Washington Post, General George Casey, Commander of Multi-national Forces in Iraq, believes:
Weare about 75 percent of the way through a three-step process in buildingthose forces. And it's going to take another 12 to 18 months or so untilI believe the Iraqi security forces are completely capable of taking overresponsibility for their own security. Still probably with some level ofsupport from us, but that will be asked for by the Iraqis.
But, that sounds strangely similar to what he said over a year ago.
Yep, I was right. Here'sCasey saying we could see "substantial withdrawals of troops in Spring of2006. But Casey said that on July 27, 2005. Since then, we've actually increasedtroop levels and the violence has increased. So, why should we believe himnow, and why are the Republicans not muzzling each other over this changein tone just before the mid-term elections?
Just for fun, here's Casey again in June of 2006, saying that troop levels would be reduced in September (didn't happen).
Elsewhere,White House spokesman Tony Snow said Monday the administration would no longeruse the term "stay the course" to describe the administration's prosecutionof the war. This gem of wisdom came after George Bush (the president, rememberhim?) said. "...we never were Stay the course" to George Stephanopoulos duringan interview aired Sunday on ABC News.
I'll bet hard currency thatyou can do a Google search for "Bush Iraq stay the course" and you'll findat least half a dozen examples of him saying just that. I tried it. I win.We all lose with this nitwit in office.
And if all of this pre-electionwar blathering hasn't given you heartburn, maybe the fact that the UnitedStates has fallen into a tie for 53rd place with Tonga, Botswana and Croatiain the Press Freedom Index:
TheUnited States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after beingin 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations betweenthe media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the presidentused the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalistwho questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which,unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognize the media’s right not toreveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations haveno connection at all with terrorism.
Freelance journalist and bloggerJosh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives.Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera,has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo,and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authoritiesin Iraq since April this year.
If I'm not back bloggingin a few days, look for me in Tonga, where I might be able to find employmentat Tefua-'a-Vaka-Lautala. Adios, Aloha and Sayonara for now.