Monday, September 10, 2007

Analysis: Petraeus leaves larger questions unanswered

Above: Iraqis gather for handouts of food and money from U.S. troops in Baghdad on August 28th near FOB Loyalty.

The long-awaited testimony this afternoon of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, once seen as a potential turning point in war policy, seemed more like an exercise of kicking the can down the road.

Appearing before two House committees, Petraeus confirmed that 30,000 U.S. troops could be withdrawn from Iraq by the middle of next summer, but that was hardly unexpected: Officials have been forecasting for months that the so-called surge would have to end no later than April 2008 or there would be unacceptable strains on the American military.

But Petraeus left the larger questions -- what will be the future size and mission of the American "footprint" in Iraq -- unanswered. He offered hints that the reductions might continue beyond next summer but said he would not be able to offer a definitive judgment until March.

"Our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous," Petraeus testified.

Read the rest at the Washington Post