The word Iraq seems to derange the minds of almost all who contemplate it. Like other famous vexations in history -- Carthage for the Romans, Germany for the French, the Irish for the English (and, of course, the English for the Irish) -- Iraq induces in the current American mind the full range of mentalities except reason.
Come September, not only Gen. David Petraeus, but also many other designated experts will deliver their report cards on Iraqi progress -- or lack of it. Now, two months out, serious huffing and puffing is already building up inside Washington. An independent commission created by Congress but appointed by the Pentagon, led by war critic retired Gen. James Jones will report back on the question of whether Iraq security forces are ready to take over more responsibilities.
Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will file another report. A number of American intelligence agencies are also reported to be preparing to file assessments in September of the current Iraqi government's capability to resolve the political logjams between Sunni, Shia, Kurds and tribal leaders.
According to the New York Times (for whatever that is worth these days), both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, have as one of their central goals "to turn down the heat in Iraq, transforming the war from the central national security crisis confronting the nation to an important but manageable long-term foreign policy and military issue." While that might be a worthy goal, it is, of course, a political impossibility between now and the presidential election.
Another senior administration official is quoted saying, "the issue now is when do we start withdrawing troops and at what pace." It is generally asserted by military experts that starting next spring the military will not have sufficient troops to maintain the surge level. Thus, one brigade a month will have to be withdrawn, or else already onerous tours of duty will have to be further extended.
From all this and more, let me save you the bother of waiting for the September deluge of reports from the four corners of our government. Come September it will be the received wisdom of Washington that: (1) the Maliki government is hopelessly incapable of ever effecting the necessary political compromises to make Iraq a functioning government, (2) we cannot maintain our current troop strength in Iraq with the current size of our military, and (3) the Iraqi military will not soon be ready to replace our forces in combat or even heavy police duties.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.