The front page headline in today’s Washington Post blared, “No U.S. Backup Startegy For Iraq.” But the story beneath the headline, by Karen DeYoung and Thomas Ricks, provides no support for the sensationalist headline. The story shows only that the White House isn’t talking to outsiders about a “Plan B” for Iraq, not that there is no such plan (among these outsiders are unnamed governors who allegedly concluded, stupidly, that because General Pace wouldn’t identify a Plan B for them, none exists). In fact, the article acknowledges that Defense Secretary Gates has testified before Congress that he’s been thinking about alternatives in case the “surge” doesn’t work.
Moreover, the White House has said that before deciding to “surge” it considered a range of alternatives. Indeed, when Brent McQuirk, the president’s national security pointman on Iraq, briefed a group of bloggers about the surge, he reiterated this point and identified one of the alternatives — pulling back from Baghdad and focusing on attacking al Qaeda in places like Anbar province. So the White House has on its shelf several alternative approaches, the pros and cons of which have been fully evaluated. Though subject to possible change, they surely constitute Plan B, Plan C, etc.
In short, the Post’s headline is almost certainly inaccurate and, in any case, not supported by the paper’s own report. But when has the Post ever let the facts, even as stated by its reporters, stand in the way of a good Bush-bashing headline?
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