Stray From The Course

by Roger Alford

Phil Carter, who contributes to one of the smartest military blogs over at Intel-Dump, speculated about the recent announcements regarding possible changes to the security situation in Iraq. Here is what Carter suggests:

I’m still trying to figure out why, after so many statements that we were succeeding, the U.S. would decide to say that we needed a course correction. Here are a few guesses:

1) The senior U.S. leadership in Iraq is helping the White House diminish and manage expectations in advance of the 2006 midterm elections. By lowering the bar for performance, the military provides factual support for Republican candidates who say we’re doing as best we can in Iraq.

2) Amb. Khalilzad and Gen. Casey desperately want to reframe the debate from “stay the course vs. cut and run” to something more realistic. But to do that, they first need to give everyone a sharp reality check about what’s going in Iraq. This goes hand-in-hand with the upcoming release of the Baker Study Group report.

3) The senior leadership in Iraq is simply tired of spinning. They did not clear these statements with Washington, and are way out in front of where the White House and Pentagon want to be.

4) Amb. Khalilzad and Gen. Casey want to push the Maliki government to do more, so they are indicating with this statement that U.S. forces have reached the limit of their capability to provide security for Iraq. If so, they’re playing a very high stakes game of poker.

5) Least probably, Gen. Casey and Amb. Khalilzad are simply at their wit’s end, and they have decided to be as blunt as possible.

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