Saturday, 24 January 2009

Signals and noise 2

My earlier post rounding up articles on the upcoming troop withdrawals from Iraq missed out this story on comments by Michèle Flournoy, nominee for undersecretary of defense for policy, at her January 15th Senate confirmation hearing. Those not satisfied with the tidbits in the article could watch the archived webcast of the proceedings, or trawl through the pre-hearing written Q & A. Or you can just take it from me that the key theme I heard on Iraq was “implement the SOFA”.

From Thursday last, Col. Peter Mansoor talking to Mark Ambinder about Gen. Petraeus’s first meeting with Obama since the inauguration:
I think Gen. Petraeus will want to hear, “Mr. President, what’s the mission. What do you want the military forces in the central command area to do.” He probably would rather hear that than “send four brigades to Afghanistan,” or “I want to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months,” or some of these specific things. He would probably rather hear the President say that “it’s my intention to draw down combat forces as quickly as possible while maintaining the ability to train and equip the Iraqi security forces and keep a lid of sectarian violence as the provincial and national elections occur. It’s my intention to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, reverse the spiral downward and conduct a counterinsurgency campaign in order to reinforce the legitimacy of the Afghan government in Kabul.” And then, in return, the military can say, here are two or three courses of actions, associated with timelines and risks associated of withdrawing more quickly from Iraq and not reinforcement more quickly in Afghanistan.

In The New York Times on Friday, comments by departing US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker:
“I think Iraqi security forces have made enormous progress during my time here, both quantitatively and, more important, qualitatively,” Mr. Crocker told reporters at the new American Embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad. “There is still a ways to go. And clearly, still a continuing need for our security support.”

“If it were to be a precipitous withdrawal, that could be very dangerous,” he added, “but it’s clear that’s not the direction in which this is trending.”
 Also, BBC News on Ryan Crocker: US envoy against hasty Iraq exit.

A number of links via the SWJ.

The ‘history in the making’ type post I had in mind for last week, well, maybe I’ll get it done tomorrow, or the day after. I have made a start you know. Ah well, theres always Martin, and Martin again, and  Jeff, and Bob to read. And Drew Friedman’s painting for the current issue of The New Yorker is their best Obama cover - of many! It grows richer the more I look at it.

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