In the Arena

Response to Karen

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The Levin-Warner reaction to their Iraq visit is certainly smarter than some others I’ve seen. They essentially confirm what I reported in June–that there’s good news in that the Sunni tribes have turned against the Salafists and really bad news about the utter inability of the Iraqis to govern themselves.

I do think they were taken a bit by the military on the question of progress in the Iraqi Army and police forces. I tend to agree with the non-coms who wrote the op-ed in the Sunday NewYork Times, and also with some of the combat officers I spoke with in Iraq–that the Iraqis are quite undependable, in many cases little more than militia members in camouflage.

What should be frightening to Democrats is this: Bush and Petraeus will probably announce a drawndown from 20 to 15 combat brigages over the next year. This is negligible, no more than following the current rotation pattern back down to pre-surge troop levels (130,000). It will be difficult for Congressional Democrats to explain to an apathetic public why this isn’t nearly enough, why a real change in policy is needed.