Bush Officials Say Escalation Will Last Into 2008

The New York Times reports this morning, to no one’s great surprise, that the Bush administration foresees its “surge” lasting until “well into” 2008.

The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.

In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.

In early March, the Times reported that Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the day-to-day commander of American forces in Iraq, had recommended in a private memo that Bush’s increased troop levels “be maintained through February 2008.” Odierno also said in January that “even with the additional American troops,” it might take another ‘two or three years‘ for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war.”

Odierno is notable since he was mentioned in the Washington Post’s report on Friday about the growing “split inside the military between younger, mid-career officers and the top brass.” The Post reported that “many majors and lieutenant colonels have privately expressed anger and frustration” with the performance of several generals, “calling them slow to grasp the realities of the war and overly optimistic in their assessments.” Odierno was one of three generals cited by name.

UPDATE: David Kurtz adds:

[This] is a milestone in the Bush Administration’s public spin of the war, marking the first official acknowledgment that the surge and all the attendant fuss were nothing more than an elaborate stop-gap intended to buy time so that the colossal failure of the President’s foreign policy can be pawned off on the next president.

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