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Obama and Petraeus

Yesterday, Barack Obama said the announced withdrawal of 8,000 troops from Iraq by February 2009 was “not enough.” This morning, in the course of a Washington Post interview with General David Petraeus, we read this:

In the interview, Petraeus acknowledged that he had originally asked for no combat troops to be withdrawn. But he called that recommendation a “very early analysis” that he was given only three days to prepare in August.

After several weeks, Petraeus said, he and his replacement, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, agreed that a combat brigade could be withdrawn. “What is approved today is in fact that final set of recommendations,” Petraeus said.

In other words, Petraeus first thought it would be dangerous to remove a single American fighting man from the Iraq theater, and then, after weeks of study, determined that they could manage with a reducation about 7 percent in the size of the force.

Given that Obama has declared the surge, run by Petraeus, succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, maybe he should listen to Petraeus next time before he decides to make a nakedly political call on a matter that ought to be beyond politics.



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