As I said below, we certainly have had some good journalists in this country, especially for the past couple of years (2001, 2002, and 2003 were not nearly as good) and these days at least, Tom Ricks of Fiasco fame is certainly one of them. Today’s article from Ricks rocks: “The text of President Bush’s news conference yesterday ran to nearly 10,000 words, but what may have been more significant were the things he did not say.”
That response left unclear how the benchmarks would be different from previous times when the United States has set out intentions, only to back down. For example, the original war plan envisioned the U.S. troop presence in Iraq being cut to 30,000 by the fall of 2003. Last year, some top U.S. commanders thought they would be able to significantly cut the U.S. troop level in Iraq this year — a hope now officially abandoned. More recently, the U.S. military all but withdrew from Baghdad, only to have to have to reenter the capital as security evaporated from its streets and Iraqi forces proved unable to restore calm by themselves.
Right, exactly, the “plan” has always been to reduce troop levels as the Iraqi government hit awesome benchmarks. The problem in Iraq has never been a lack of a “plan” to (a) have the Iraqi government hit benchmarks, and then (b) reduce US troops levels dramatically, leaving behind a few tens of thousands of soldiers on permanent bases to lay the groundwork for the next round of the Mideast Transformation Project. The problem has always been that the “plan” has no relationship to reality. Churning out new “plans” doesn’t change that.