Look closely at the chart, and then remember Kevin’s sage words:
It looks like some kind of timeline for withdrawal, but all it actually says is that we’ll withdraw five brigades by next July, something we already know is driven not by strategic considerations but by operational realities, and that eventually — someday — we’ll draw down to five brigades. Could be tomorrow, could be ten years from now, but hey — the slide shows troops levels going down, and that’s the graphic that counts.
And the target date for deciding whether the actual date is tomorrow or 2017? March of 2008, exactly six months from now. Sometimes these guys make Atrios’s job too easy.
The chart actually states that the decision will be made around March 8th, which is next week. And look what appears today in the NY Times:
The commander of American forces in the Middle East says he will endorse a brief pause in troop reductions from Iraq this summer, but then will seek a resumption of withdrawals to ease stress on the overall military and allow him to balance deployments across the volatile region.
Those comments by Adm. William J. Fallon, leader of the military’s Central Command, added to indications that American troop levels in Iraq would hold at about 140,000, at least temporarily, after the departure by July of five additional combat brigades ordered to Iraq last year by President Bush.
But Admiral Fallon, in an interview on Tuesday at his headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base here, made clear his appraisal that the halt in reductions should be temporary — and brief — just long enough to allow “all the dust to settle” and to provide an opportunity for “a clear-eyed view” of the way ahead.
Operation Dump This Mess On The Next Administration needs some more Friedman Units.