It was one year ago today that General George Casey, the commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq said:
...President Bush has accepted his recommendation that the number of American forces in Iraq drop over the coming months.
Casey said he might recommend further reductions in the spring.
The reduction is a result of the progress in Iraq, he said. In the past year there have been three elections, and in each case participation climbed while violence dropped, Casey said.
Nine months ago, and a little more than a week after the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Casey said:
I did want to give you a perspective, my perspective, on really the last 10 days of what's gone on here in the aftermath of the Samarra mosque bombing. [...]
So, has there been violence and terrorism here in Iraq in the wake of the Samarra bombings? Clearly. Is that violence out of control? Clearly not.
Now, it appears that the crisis has passed...
Of course, the crisis that had passed was cited last month by George Bush as the bombing that:
...started off this new phase of violence.
Two months ago, Casey reported that:
...progress exists in Iraq alongside the attention-grabbing violence. Much of the country is relatively peaceful, Casey said, and U.S. goals for the development of Iraqi security forces are on track.
He said the current approach of bringing the level of the insurgency down as Iraqi forces stand up is still "a valid framework for what we're doing in Iraq," and he was dismissive of a wholesale strategic change, as some members of Congress have recently suggested.
And now, as we await the announcement of George Bush's "new way forward," code name, Operation I Want A Legacy, it is being reported that Casey and other military commanders:
...have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces.
Maybe someone will ask Casey why last year he felt that:
...in Iraq, less coalition at this point in time, is better. Less is better because it doesn't feed the notion of occupation, it doesn't work the culture of dependency, it doesn't lengthen the time for Iraqi forces to be self-reliant, and it doesn't expose coalition forces to risk when there are Iraqi forces who are capable of standing up and doing it.
Or more to the point, perhaps someone could ask Gen. Casey if he's ever been right about the situation in Iraq.