President Bush has consistently said that his strategy in Iraq is dictated by military officials on the ground. Last night on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, columnist Mark Shields revealed that one of the “highest ranking men” in the military has recommended removing all U.S. troops from Baghdad. Here’s the key excerpt:
MARK SHIELDS: The highest ranking or certainly one of the highest ranking men in the United States military today has recommended that we remove all troops from Baghdad, all American troops from Baghdad…All of the troops out of Baghdad, secure the road to the airport, secure the oil fields and the borders, and say that the pacification and the maintaining of order in Baghdad is the responsibility of the Iraqis. That is the recommendation of probably one of the most — probably the most respected man in uniform today.
JIM LEHRER: You mean in uniform, serving on active duty today?
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
JIM LEHRER: So who did he make this recommendation to?
MARK SHIELDS: He made it to the civilian leadership of the United States.
If Shields’ report is true it represents an acknowledgment by the military that the conspicuous presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is actually making the situation worse. This is one of the core rationales of the American Progress plan, Strategic Redeployment.