Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute is President Bush’s nominee to be “war czar” for our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week, according to the Washington Post, Lute testified that conditions in Iraq have not improved significantly despite the recent influx of troops. The Post also says that U.S. intelligence officials made a similar report to the Senate Armed Services Committee in a closed session last month.
In September of this year, General Petraeus will report to Congress on the situation in Iraq. His report may not be as grim as the ones the Post describes; indeed, those reports may not be that grim. However, it seems unlikely that by September Petraeus will be able to say the surge has achieved more than modest success in Baghdad. I doubt that a report of only modest success would be sufficient to sustain the surge politically.
At that point, President Bush may be forced to agree to a reduction in troop levels, along with a new strategy, in order to be able to continue operating militarily in Iraq at all.
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