Thursday, June 21, 2007

Petraeus: September is no policy deadline date — he has no deadlines at all

Gen. David Petraeus says September is a report deadline and nothing more, one of several insights in a British interview.

“That is a deadline for a report not a deadline for a change in policy, at least not that I am aware of. Ambassador Crocker and I intend to go back and provide a snapshot at that time, however focused the photograph is at that time and begin to describe what has been achieved and what has not been achieved and also to provide some sense of implications of courses of action. Neither of us is under any illusion.”

Really? Wonder if Dems will smell more coffee on the next Iraq supplemental?

And, he doesn’t expect “total victory”:
Will [the surge] be enough to restore security?

“You are never going to eliminate sensational attacks in Baghdad. That cannot be your metric of success. What we have to do is reduce their number and their impact. We had done quite well until the attack yesterday that killed a number of innocent civilians.”

And, apropos of the headline, he’s very open-ended about deadlines:
Would you like the surge to continue indefinitely?

“It depends on what the sense is for the prospects of achieving Iraq’s constitution. I hope that we can put time back on the Washington clock. Al-Qaeda is keenly aware of the Washington clock. They are obviously going to have a surge of their own.

And, he continues to “pump up the volume” about the importance of Iraq:
What about the leadership in Iraq?

"It is still led by foreigners called al-Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL). Our assessment is that this is the central front for al-Qaeda. They have a global war of terror, and Iraq is the central front. Whether you like it or not.

So, in a nutshell, the top brass in Iraq wants an open-ended commitment and claims we have to fight al-Qaeda there. He goes on to claim Iran has a high degree of backing for rogue elements of the Mahdi Army (I wouldn’t doubt some backing, but question the degree) and that the still-unpassed draft oil law is a key to political reconciliation.

Well, general, if you believe that, you could be waiting a long time.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.