Thursday, July 28, 2005

# Posted 12:17 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PREMATURE WITHDRAWAL? The WaPo headline reads: US Signals Spring Start for Pullout. That headline conveys a rather formidable sense of certainty about the pullout, implying that the question is not whether but when. However, the statement made by Gen. George Casey seems to be so heavily loaded down with caveats as to be almost meaningless. For example, Casey said that:
If the political process continues to go positively, and if the development of the security forces continues to go as it is going, I do believe we'll still be able to take some fairly substantial reductions after these elections in the spring and summer,
There are some huge 'if's. I am fairly confident that the political process will head in the right direction, but the Iraqi security forces have a very long way to go. The question then is why the WaPo bothered to make such a fuss over Casey's statement. This sentence from the Post provides the answer:
Rumsfeld and other officials have rejected making a deadline [for withdrawal] public, but a secret British defense memo leaked this month in London said U.S. officials favored "a relatively bold reduction in force numbers."
In other words, this is supposed to be a story about hypocrisy in the White House, courtesy of yet another British memo. I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I saw that the supposed pullout had briefly become the top story on the WaPo homepage. But now it seems pretty clear that the headline writers were jumping the gun.

UPDATE: Times correspondent Eric Schmitt, for whom I have a good deal of respect, covered the pullout story much more judiciously.
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