The Commander of U.S. Forces in the Middle East, General John Abazaid, is testifying on Capitol Hill this afternoon. And, if his exchanges with Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee are any indicator, General Abazaid is going to be in a tough spot when their party takes control of Congress in January.
Arguing against a fixed timetable for troop withdrawals from Iraq, General Abazaid said such a plan would "limit flexibility." He also indicated that the security situation in Baghdad had improved since August, when he warned lawmakers that Iraq was sliding toward civil war. According to General Abazaid:
“It’s certainly not as bad as the situation appeared back in August,” Abizaid said, adding that he saw growing confidence among Iraqis in their government. “It’s still at unacceptably high levels,” he said of the sect-on-sect violence “I wouldn’t say that we have turned the corner in this regard, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was in August.”
But Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the incoming chair of the committee, is sticking to his "redeployment" strategy. He told General Abazaid--and his fellow committee members--that the only solution is to begin a phased redeployment in 4-6 months. One wonders what advice Mr. Levin would have offered after Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Iwo Jima, or other World War II battles that killed thousands of American troops. We lost twice as many Marines in one month on Iwo (7,000) than in three years of fighting in Iraq. Can you imagine the exchange between Senator Levin and Marine General Holland Smith, the commander of the Iwo invasion force? Earthy, profane and politically incorrect, "Howlin' Mad" Smith would have probably told the Senator where to shove it, or asked him if his manhood was in hock.
Military reality, meet political expediency. As far as Senator Levin is concerned, the "new approach" for Iraq is clear, and the big skeedaddle must begin now. Meanwhile, Senator Levin's friends in the fourth estate are continuing their support for the cause. In the middle of the the MSNBC story on Abazaid's testimony, you'll note a link to another article, on the latest combat casualties in Iraq.