The General Fails to Deliver

For anybody looking for new insights, a new start, or renewed hope about the war in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus’s long-awaited testimony was a big disappointment.

After two days of testimony, what have we learned?

One, that 5,000 troops will be home from Iraq by the end of the year.

Two, that we MAY see a reduction of forces back to pre-surge levels by mid-July 2008. But beyond that, there is no timetable for bringing additional troops home.

Three, that American troops will continue the mission of providing security for the Iraqi people, instead of letting Iraqis themselves take over that task.

Four, that there’s been little political progress — allowing for which was the whole purpose of the surge — and no hope the Iraqi government will ever meet the benchmarks set for it by Congress.

Well, pardon me, but I’m underwhelmed. This is neither what we deserve nor what we were led to expect. Reducing American forces to pre-surge levels by July 2008 amounts to no actual reduction in troops. It just gets us back to square one.

In other words, Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker left us with no real reduction in troops, no plan for withdrawing troops, no timetable, no change of mission and no hope of political progress.

After their testimony, it’s more clear than ever: Iraq is not working. The surge is not working. And the Maliki government is not working.

If the path ahead in Iraq is murky, the path at home is clear. This time, Democrats must stand firm: Not one more dollar for Iraq without a firm timetable for bringing American troops home.

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