In public, President Bush has firmly dismissed the mounting calls to set a deadline to begin a withdrawal from Iraq, declaring eight days ago that there was only one test for when the time is right. . . . But in private conversations, American officials are beginning to acknowledge that a judgment about when withdrawals can begin is driven by two political calendars - one in Iraq and one here - as much as by those military assessments.
. . . As Mr. Bush ends his Thanksgiving holiday in Texas on Monday, both his own aides and American commanders say, he will begin confronting these sometimes conflicting military and political issues, including the midterm Congressional elections in this country, part of a delicate balancing action about how and when to begin extracting American troops from Iraq.
. . . [I]t is . . . clear that Mr. Bush is under new pressure to begin showing that troop reductions are under way before the midterm Congressional elections next year.
. . . "We've moved from 'if' to 'how fast,' " said one former aide with close ties to the National Security Council. He said officials in the Bush White House were already actively reviewing possible plans under which 40,000 to 50,000 troops or more could be recalled next year if "a plausible case could be made" that a significant number of Iraqi battalions could hold their own.
. . . [S]enior officers are painfully aware that sustaining the current high level of troop deployments in Iraq risks undermining morale of those now in uniform - and already has poisoned the efforts of Army recruiters seeking to woo young Americans into military service.
So the Republicans are playing politics on Iraq, not concerned with the actual soundness of policy? What will Fred Hiatt say?
What Lieberman doesn't say is that many Democrats would view [loss of support for the Iraq Debacle] as an advantage. Their focus on 2002 is a way to further undercut President Bush, and Bush's war, without taking the risk of offering an alternative strategy -- to satisfy their withdraw-now constituents without being accountable for a withdraw-now position.
Many of them understand that dwindling public support could force the United States into a self-defeating position, and that defeat in Iraq would be disastrous for the United States . . . [b]ut the taste of political blood as Bush weakens, combined with their embarrassment at having supported the war in the first place, seems to override that understanding.
Will Hiatt criticize Bush and the Republicans for letting politics override the well being of the nation regarding Iraq policy? Hell no. Because he was and remains a son of a bitch Republican shill. McCarthyite bastard.
More on the flip.
Apparently politics will not be damned by Republicans. What will Hiatt say? What will JOE LIEBERMAN say? He should rip the shit out of Bush for this. Will he? You know he won't.
If the military commanders are really saying this:
Officers fear that a hasty retreat driven by American domestic politics - and not conditions on the ground in Iraq - could invite greater violence or even civil war and that the American military would carry the blame for losing Iraq.
Senior Pentagon civilians and officers say the military is following standard practice and has drafted a number of plans with a range of options for Iraq.
Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, warned that a hasty withdrawal before Iraqi security forces are given a chance during 2006 to "achieve enough critical mass" and stand more on their own "will end in snatching defeat from the jaws of uncertainty." The top American commander in the Middle East has, since at least July, outlined a plan that would gradually reduce American forces in Iraq toward 100,000 by next spring, Pentagon and military officials said.
Then Bush is honor bound to not play politics on withdrawal. Personally, I doubt they really are. But IF they are, then Bush must put the nation first. He never has and he never will.
And neither has Fred Hiatt and his ilk.
I question THEIR patriotism.