Offering another sign that the administration plans to continue its escalation of the war in Iraq into 2008, U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus now says that he will not have “anything definitive” to say about the war in his September review.
On April 26, Petraeus told reporters that “in early September” he “would provide an assessment of the situation in Iraq with respect to our mission and offer recommendations on the way ahead.” But in an interview with CNN reporter Jane Arraf for IraqSlogger, Petraeus says, “Come September, I don’t think we’ll have anything definitive in September (although) certainly we’ll have some indicators on the political side in Iraq.”
Other recent signs that Bush is planning a long-term escalation:
– Last week, the Pentagon “notified more than 35,000 soldiers and Marines to be prepared to deploy to Iraq beginning this fall, a move that would allow commanders to maintain the ongoing buildup of troops through the end of the year if needed.” [Link]
– The New York Times reported in late April, “The timelines [that Bush officials] are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.” [Link]
– 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.” [Link; Link]
In recent weeks, senior conservatives have said that President Bush had until September “to prove that the Iraq war effort has turned a corner.” Petraeus’ announcement throws a major wrench in that plan.