Sunday, February 27, 2005

Stop me if you've heard this one

George Bush said on Thursday that troop withdrawals from Iraq depend on moves to strengthen Iraqi security forces. Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi echoed the sentiment, saying that withdrawals would require the Iraqi army and internal security to be able to fill the gap that might otherwise occur.

Meanwhile, AP says that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) -

Whoops! Sorry! Back up! That first paragraph was read off the wrong script. That wasn't Bush and Allawi, the actual speakers were Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed al-Mualem and Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami. They weren't talking about US troops leaving Iraq but Syrian troops leaving Lebanon. An understandable confusion, I expect.

Those Syrian troops whose departure is dependent on strengthening Lebanon's security forces have been there for 14 years. Which makes what Sen. Graham had to say even more pointed. As reported by AP on Friday, Graham,
back from a weeklong journey overseas, offered the sobering assessment Friday that American troops will be in Iraq for years and casualties are likely for some time to come. ...

"Americans have to understand that, just as in Japan and Germany, it will take years to go from a dictatorship to a democratic government." ...

"The Iraqi people are more empowered but the security situation is worse," he said. "We had a lot less freedom to move around. In many ways in terms of security it is not better off than all."
Graham had his own supporting echo, as on that same day Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a gathering of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council that
in the past century, insurgencies around the world have lasted anywhere from seven to 12 years, making a quick fix to the problem in Iraq unlikely.

"This is not the kind of business that can be done in one year, two years probably," said Myers....
Graham, for his part, is looking at the even longer term, noting that "we're still in Germany and South Korea 50 years later." Of course, the presence of US troops in those nations is not supposed to be due to the internal conditions there, so some might say Graham is comparing apples to oranges. Perhaps, however, what he is really comparing is permanent - oops, excuse me, the Pentagon-correct term is "enduring" - enduring bases to enduring bases.

Footnote, Another Country Heard From Div.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Wednesday that
U.S. Senator John McCain told reporters in Kabul on 22 February that America's strategic partnership with Afghanistan should include "permanent bases" for U.S. military forces.
McCain was part of the same group of Senators touring the region that included Graham.

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