"A Conditions-Based Withdrawal?"
Today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the administration would withdraw two combat brigades from Iraq – approximately 7,000 troops. Rumsfeld disingenuously claimed that the pullout was a result of improving conditions on the ground. “[F]orce level decisions are condition-based and will continue to be condition-based. They’ll have been and will continue to be determined by assessment of Iraq’s progress,” Rumsfeld said. Since the largely peaceful elections on December 15th (peaceful because insurgents observed a truce that allowed Iraqis to go to the polls), the violence on the ground has escalated to pre-election levels:
“A soldier was killed by a bomb Thursday while on patrol in Baghdad, the military said. Violence around the country, including a suicide car bombing, left more than a dozen people dead, including six police officers, authorities said.” [LAT, 12/23/05]
“Guerrillas stormed an Iraqi army post on Friday [near Adhaim, north of Baghdad], killing 10 soldiers and wounding 20″¦in the bloodiest attack since last week’s parliamentary election.” [Reuters, 12/23/05]
“Violence has once again risen following a period of quiet around the election, for which a huge security clampdown was imposed.” [AFP, 12/20/05]
“[Vice President Cheney’s visit to Iraq] came as insurgents broke the relative calm since the national election on Thursday with a string of attacks in central and northern Iraq that left at least nine people dead.” [NYT, 12/19/05]
“Gunmen killed two relatives of a senior Kurdish official and 17 others died in a string of attacks overnight and on Sunday, piercing three days of relative calm that followed the country’s first election for a full-term parliament.” [AP, 12/18/05]
While Rumsfeld’s announcement of a pullout appears to be in line with the goals of Rep. John Murtha and other critics of the Bush strategy, there is one key difference. The Bush Administration wants the American public to believe that the pullout is a validation of a successful strategy. In contrast, Murtha has said a pullout is necessary because “our current policy is creating as many or more terrorists than it is eliminating. It is simply not working.“
In order to fix the Bush administration’s failed strategy in Iraq, it’s important that the administration speak honestly about why it is beginning to pullout.