Escalation supporters already appear to be creating a scapegoat in case President Bush’s new Iraq policy fails. Prominent neoconservatives have set their aims on top U.S. military commanders and their allies in the Pentagon (apparently including Defense Secretary Robert Gates), who they claim are sabotaging President Bush’s escalation plan by “slow-walking” the deployment of U.S. forces to Iraq.
On Sunday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol called Gates’ congressional testimony last week “pretty pathetic.” Gates told Congress that we “may be able to begin drawing down some of our troops later this year.” According to Kristol, “That’s the absolute wrong message to send. The message we should send over there is we’re coming in, we’re coming in big, we’re staying, we’re winning this war.” Kristol suggested that Gates was “letting the Joint Chiefs slow-walk the brigades in.” Watch it:
On Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) agreed that the Pentagon is “dragging its feet” in implementing Bush’s strategy, saying, “I think there’s bureaucratic resistance in the Pentagon to this proposal.” Retired Army Gen. John Keane, the “military architect” of the escalation plan, is also upset:
Gen. Keane expressed his alarm after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates testified on Capitol Hill that the troop buildup was expected to last “a matter of months” — rather than the 18 months proposed by Gen. Keane.
Mr. Gates also said the full deployment of 21,500 additional troops, announced by Mr. Bush last week, might not be implemented. He suggested that only two or three of the five brigades proposed for Baghdad could be deployed initially, while the rest are held in reserve.
KRISTOL: The president’s language in his speech on Wednesday could not have been stronger. He said that this is a struggle that will determine the direction of the war on terror and our safety at home.
If it is that much of an issue of national security, Brit pointed out, you know, the key is what’s going to happen with the Iraqi government, what’s going to happen with the Iraqi army, which are certainly grave concerns. Why don’t we say we are going to win this war?
KRISTOL: We should. We should. And the president does. But the administration then sort of reverses the previous rhetoric. Bob Gates’ testimony on Friday I thought was pretty pathetic, frankly — you know, well, we hope to begin drawing down troops later this year. That’s the absolute wrong message to send.
The message we should send over there is we’re coming in, we’re coming in big, we’re staying, we’re winning this war. Letting the Joint Chiefs slow-walk the brigades in I think is a big mistake.
So I think the president need to insist that his administration pivot and fight this as a war to win.