Tomorrow, Gen. David Petraeus will testify to Congress to provide his perspective on the escalation in Iraq. The Washington Post reports this morning that the White House political office has been coordinating with Petraeus for months to market Bush’s strategy to the public:
Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge.
Petraeus’ testimony should be seen in that light — another way of “selling the surge.” The American public, however, isn’t fooled about what’s going on. 66 percent say Bush will stick with his policy no matter what Petraeus says, and 53 percent say Petraeus will try to make things in Iraq look better than they are.
This morning, Bill Kristol spoke plainly about the White House’s intentions. “The truth is we are going to have over 100,000 troops in Iraq when George Bush leaves office,” Kristol said. He added “sober Democrats who want to be serious about” Iraq and “who want to think about the consequences of losing” are coming to the view that “of course you can’t just pull out.” Watch it:
The Washington Post reports that CentCom chief Admiral William Fallon has been pushing a plan to substantially slash the number of U.S. combat forces in Iraq, and has been engaged in a bitter clash with Petraeus:
[H]is efforts offended Petraeus’s team, which saw them as unwelcome intrusion on their own long-term planning. The profoundly different views of the U.S. role in Iraq only exacerbated the schism between the two men.
“Bad relations?” said a senior civilian official with a laugh. “That’s the understatement of the century. … If you think Armageddon was a riot, that’s one way of looking at it.”
Only “sober and serious” flacks for the White House believe that a long-term presence in Iraq is a strategically sound decision.
WALLACE: Is it a consensus that’s forming? Or basically, has the president has won and the Democrats have lost?
KRISTOL: The president is winning, and sober Democrats who want to be serious about the fact that we are fighting Al Qaida in Iraq, and we are fighting Iranian proxies in Iraq, and serious people who want to think about the consequences of losing to Al Qaida in Iraq or the Iranian proxies in Iraq, are coming to the view that of course you can’t just pull out.
And Hillary Clinton knows you can’t pull out. And some of them want to draw down a little more quickly than Petraeus is going to draw down, and then the surge is going to unwind.
But the truth is we are going to have over 100,000 troops in Iraq when George Bush leaves office, and we are going to be winning the war in Iraq. And the next president is going to continue fighting the war in Iraq.
WILLIAMS: Well, you speak the truth. I mean, I think what you just said is absolutely right. We’re going to have 100,000 troops in Iraq for I don’t know how long.
I think if we ask the American people, Are you willing to have — to sustain that amount of commitment for what? Exactly for what? Tell me why, I think most Americans are going to say…
WALLACE: So why are the Democrats going to sign on?
WILLIAMS: Well, at this point — what you have had over the last several weeks is a campaign by the Bush administration — it’s going to be capped off Tuesday by Petraeus’ report. He’s in an untenable position, damned if he does and says, You know what? This is hurting the Army, and damned if he doesn’t.