Feature

Buying time in Iraq?

Gen. David Petraeus "faces a difficult task" convincing congressional skeptics that the troop-surge strategy is still "working as planned" in Iraq, said The Dallas Morning News. The plan clearly worked militarily, said The Wall Street

What happenedStreet battles continued between Shiite Muslim militias and Iraqi and American soldiers in Baghdad, as Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker arrived in Washington to give Congress their latest appraisal of the Iraq war. (Los Angeles Times, free registration)

What the commentators said“With recent pitched battles dividing Iraq's two biggest cities and daily bombardments killing U.S. troops and diplomats in Baghdad,” said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial (free registration), Petraeus “faces a difficult task convincing congressional skeptics that his year-old troop surge is working as planned.” Petraeus and Crocker will almost surely ask for a pause in the drawdown of American troops to pre-surge levels, but they’ll have to provide a convincing answer when asked how that will help Iraq’s sectarian leaders resolve their differences, when nothing else has.

Last year’s surge was one of “the most important counteroffensives in U.S. military annals,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. It’s now clear that we “can no longer be defeated militarily in Iraq”—something that couldn’t be said before. “The question now is whether Washington will squander these gains by withdrawing so quickly that we could still lose politically.”

“The original mission was to buy time for reconciliation,” said H.D.S. Greenway in The Boston Globe (free registration). “But there has been virtually none, and none is in sight.” Now the “Ryan Crocker-David Petraeus show” is back before Congress to buy time again, but this time the only thing they can hope to gain is to keep the violence from rising again too quickly, to help the hawkish John McCain win the presidency.

Every time we make progress in Iraq the war’s critics “move the goalposts,” said Rich Lowry in the New York Post (free registration). “The last time Gen. David Petraeus came to Washington, he heralded tentative but widely discounted security gains. Now he brings news of tentative but widely discounted political progress.” As we tick off one benchmark for success after another, “neutralizing militias” and getting the Iraqi government on its feet, “opponents of the war will surely move on to something else—probably the war's cost.”

Recommended

Pope warns politicians not to exploit 'fear of the other'
Pope Francis says mass in Athens
Last day in Greece

Pope warns politicians not to exploit 'fear of the other'

10 things you need to know today: December 5, 2021
Chris Cuomo
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 5, 2021

Orthodox priest heckles Pope Francis in Greece
orthodox priest being arrested
Heretic!

Orthodox priest heckles Pope Francis in Greece

Polls close in first Gambian presidential election since dictator's exile
Gambian election
Plonk! goes your vote

Polls close in first Gambian presidential election since dictator's exile

Most Popular

Mace vs. Greene is the fight for the future of the GOP
Mace and Greene.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

Mace vs. Greene is the fight for the future of the GOP

Kathy Griffin slams CNN for firing her but not Jeffrey Toobin
Kathy Griffin
'I loved that gig'

Kathy Griffin slams CNN for firing her but not Jeffrey Toobin

Trump's apparently a fan of Dr. Oz's Senate candidacy
Dr. Oz.
the doctor is in

Trump's apparently a fan of Dr. Oz's Senate candidacy