Friday, September 14, 2007

Troop Withdrawals & Other Amazing Fairy Tales

Oh, Mr. President. You tease.

Last night’s promise to withdraw as many as 20 combat brigades from Iraq next spring might sound good to those not really paying attention. But what President Bush is really telling us is that the surge is ... temporary! Gee, I thought that was the point all along.

The truth is, promising a troop withdrawal is perhaps second only to phony terror alerts as a favorite election ploy. It never happens, much as Adminstration folks talk about it.

Let’s jump into the memory hole for a look at what I’m talking about. Here’s something from June 2006:
WASHINGTON, June 24 — The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

The media enablers were all over this story, reporting it as if it actually meant something. It's not going to happen, though, is it? Instead we got “the surge.”

We heard a similar fairy tale in Nov. 2005:

Defense official: Rumsfeld given Iraq withdrawal plan

Plan calls for troops to begin pulling out after December elections

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top U.S. commander in Iraq has submitted a plan to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq, according to a senior defense official.

Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades -- usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of Iraq early next year.

We heard similar stories in this May, 18 2005 Washington Post story:

Nonetheless, by the middle of next month -- after one more assessment is run -- Casey and his staff intend to send a recommendation to the Pentagon on whether to reduce U.S. troop levels and by how much. One proposal gaining favor, according to another general in Iraq involved in the planning, envisions shrinking from 17 U.S. combat brigades to as few as 13 brigades next year, meaning a cut in troops from 138,000 to about 105,000, although the general stressed that this option is far from final.

Of course, General Casey was fired and replaced with the "sycophant” currently in charge. Pre- and post-surge, our troop levels will stay at around 130,000. That’s not progress, that’s staying in the same place.

(I also think it’s really clever to start referring to troop levels in terms of “combat brigades” not troop numbers. Because, 15 combat brigades sounds so much better than 30,000 troops).

The truth is, we’re never leaving Iraq, not when you remember the gigantic “embassy” (*cough*cough*MilitaryBase*cough*cough*) we’re building there. From April 2006:

Three years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, only one major U.S. building project in Iraq is on schedule and within budget: the massive new American embassy compound.

The $592 million facility is being built inside the heavily fortified Green Zone by 900 non-Iraqi foreign workers who are housed nearby and under the supervision of a Kuwaiti contractor, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. Construction materials have been stockpiled to avoid the dangers and delays on Iraq's roads.

"We are confident the embassy will be completed according to schedule (by June 2007) and on budget," said Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman.

ThinkProgress has more on this “embassy” (*cough*cough*MilitaryBase*cough*cough*), which is supposed to open this month and include a 9,500-square-foot “cottage” for the deputy chief of mission in Iraq, and a 16,000-square-foot residence for the U.S. Ambassador. Sweet.

We’re not leaving Iraq. Ever. Thousands of troops are going to be needed to maintain security for years to come--security, not for Iraqi civillians, and not for Americans at home, but to make sure people like Ray Lee Hunt can stay in business.

America has sold its soul.