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Thursday, June 28

The Battle of Iraq, and what is Senator Lugar thinking?

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail has the latest update on Operation Phantom Thunder:
Iraqi and Coalition forces maintain the pressure against al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents, and the "rogue," Iranian backed "secret cells" of the Mahdi Army and the Qazali network. Operation Phantom Thunder is underway inside Baghdad and the Belts, as well as against al Qaeda's network nationwide. Also, the northwestern region of Iraq has been a focus of U.S. and Iraqi operations. The simultaneous operations to pressure al Qaeda's network are occurring in all theaters throughout Iraq. An update on each theater is provided below.
Bill has an interesting note about Mookie:

"Sadr's past two demonstrations failed to draw more than ten thousand protesters, when in the past he would draw hundreds of thousands."

As you can see from Bill's rundown on each theater of operation, Coalition and Iraqi forces are making good progress on all fronts. So I find it inexplicable that just as Operation Phantom Thunder geared up, Senator Lugar and other influential GOP congressionals decided that now was the best time to call for the US to quit Iraq.

Yesterday the New York Sun's Eli Lake reported:

The architects of the current surge strategy for Iraq are worried the Republican Party may abandon the war in September and force President Bush to begin the withdrawal of troops from the country prematurely.

Both American Enterprise Institute scholar Frederick Kagan and a retired general, John Keane, the two men who persuaded Mr. Bush to launch the current counteroffensive in Iraq last December, said in interviews this week that they fear Republicans in Congress could be looking to declare victory and leave.

"The tragedy of these efforts is we are on the cusp of potentially being successful in the next year in a way that we have failed in the three-plus preceding years, but because of this political pressure, it looks like we intend to pull out the rug from underneath that potential success," General Keane said [on June 26].

The concerns are real. In the Senate there are anywhere from 10 to 15 Republicans who have signaled publicly and privately they could not support the current surge of troops come September, when Congress is set to vote on another temporary funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At that time, General David Petraeus, the top American officer in Iraq, will give a status report on the current strategy. Those Republicans could create a veto-proof two-thirds majority in the Senate, assuming all Democrats vote for a hard withdrawal deadline or threaten to cut off funds
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Okay; I understand the reasoning come September. I even understand that GOP leaders believe the GOP will be routed if they keep supporting the Iraq war in the face of high US poll numbers against the US staying on Iraq.

What I don't understand is the timing of Lugar's remarks. What in God's name is he thinking? Has he totally let go of the concept of war, as if by wishing one can undo the fact that the United States is at war?

Why clearly signal to the enemy that there is no suspense about the outcome in September? Why come right out at this time and tell the enemy that if he can hang on in Iraq through the summer, he will definitely achieve victory?
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