The American public wants a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. In response, the Bush administration has started throwing around terms like “timeline” and “timetable.” Watch some excerpts from today’s press conference with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr.:
Unfortunately, this rhetoric is not accompanied by any change in strategy. The Iraqis have agreed to a 12-18 month “timeline” to control violence in Iraq. But if they don’t meet the benchmarks they’ve agreed to, there are no consequences. The “timeline” is disconnected from a drawdown of U.S. troops.
Casey noted, “I said a year or so ago that if the conditions on the ground continued the way they were going, that I thought we’d have fairly substantial reductions in coalition forces.” That plan was thrown out in “early July.”
Casey made it clear that if the latest effort to get the Iraqis to assume more responsibility doesn’t work out, he’s ready to reinvent the wheel again. This is the same approach the Bush administration has been pursuing for more than three years. Staying the course provides very little incentive for Iraqis to assume control of their own security problems.
KHALILZAD: Success in Iraq is possible and can be achieved on a realistic timetable. Iraqi leaders must step up to achieve key political and security milestones on which they have agreed.
KHALILZAD: Iraqi leaders have agreed to a timeline for making the hard decision needed to resolve these issues.