The pregame speculation about Petraeus’s reports has the surprise that he may back a troop drawdown. Specifically, he would propose bringing 30,000 troops home within the next 9 months, while waiting until after next July for any further withdrawal.
This is obviously the worst of all possible plans.
That may come as a surprise–surely bringing any troops home is a good thing? Not really. First of all, this plan would leave 130,000 troops in Iraq, roughly the same as prior to the surge. So it indicates no real plan to leave. Second, with fewer troops, the US military would be less able to create any kind of security in Iraq. The troops who got to go home would be sitting pretty, but those left in Iraq would be in greater danger. They could take a less active stance, but that’s not going to improve the situation.
As anyone who reads me regularly knows, this isn’t a push for us staying in Iraq. Rather, I think we need to be realistic about whether or not we can succeed in Iraq. On any remotely realistic assessment of the situation, half-measures like the above won’t work. I’d hope that even the delusional people who think we can succeed in Iraq can recognize that.
The political danger is that Democrats will be swayed by Petraeus’s testimony, implicitly accepting the argument that we’re making progress and accepting the cheap victory of bringing home a few troops.