The LA Times is reporting that the military leadership is planning to redefine "success" in Iraq:
U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.
In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.
Neocons like Fred Kagan, embittered by the disaster that Iraq has become, are trying to reduce expectations for the September progress report:
Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and early advocate of the troop buildup, said the military would have few major political accomplishments to report by September. "I think the political progress will be mostly of this local variety," said Kagan, who recently visited Iraq and met with American commanders.
Some are suggesting that we're being too tough on the Iraqis:
"The kinds of broad threats now popular in the U.S. -- 'You Iraqis get yourselves in order and negotiate a deal or we leave' -- are way too blunt an instrument," said Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former Army War College instructor who has advised commanders. "It has to be much more discriminating."
Ever since Iraq began sliding into turmoil shortly after the downfall of Saddam Hussein, administration officials and neoconservative apologists have been defining down "victory" and "success". As each new "turning point" has led to bitterness and disappointment, they have lowered the bar hoping that we could eventually achieve far more limited goals than the original neoconservative fantasy of establishing a Jeffersonian democracy in the heart of the angry Arab Middle East.
Now, incredulously, neocons like Kagan are trying to propose that we should be satisfied with political progress of the "local variety". This is a last futile attempt to convince the American people that our troops should continue fighting and dying in Iraq so that the neocons won't have to admit they were wrong.
But the American people won't be fooled. We know what victory looks like and Iraq isn't it. So it's time to end this debate and figure out how we are going to get out of this mess with a responsible withdrawal strategy that protects our troops and gives the Iraqi government (pathetic as it is) a fighting chance to survive.
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