Of all the carefully-parsed, deliberately deceptive claims made by Gen. David Petraeus in yesterday's hearings on Iraq and the "surge," my favourite is the following (emphasis added):
Based on all this and on the further progress we believe we can achieve over the next few months, I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve.
Ignore, if you will, the admission that the vaunted, rapid-fire "surge" will now, at the very least, last for over a year. That's not a surge; it's a long-term escalation. But that's not the best part.
Petraeus is clearly claiming that next summer's drawdown will be as a result of the inevitable progress between now and then.
The "surge" (or however you want to hilariously describe it) will end next summer for the simple reason that there are not enough troops to keep it going (again, emphasis added):
Analysts say Iraq surge can't last past Aug. '08
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon cannot sustain its current force levels in Iraq beyond next summer, effectively giving the Bush administration and the Iraqi government until the middle of 2008 to capitalize on recent security improvements before the US military must draw down its forces, according to US military officials and foreign policy analysts.
When the 15-month combat tours end for the nearly 30,000 additional US troops President Bush sent to Iraq earlier this year to secure the country, the Army will be unable to replace them without damaging morale or troop readiness, senior Army officials say. Those forces will complete their tours during the spring and summer of 2008, according to Army deployment schedules...
Keeping 160,000 troops in Iraq beyond the middle of next year would require the Army to reduce further the amount of time troops spend at home -- already scaled back from two years to less than 12 months in some cases -- before sending them back to the combat zone. But Army Secretary Peter Geren, the service's top official, re cently said he sees "no possibility" of extending the duty tours of US troops beyond 15 months.
Yes, it's really that simple. It doesn't matter what the conditions are next summer -- those troops are going to start to come home, progress or no progress. In short, Petraeus lied.
And I don't think the lying is going to stop any time soon.