When I wrote on Friday that the Bush administration was probably planning troop withdrawals to begin shortly before the fall elections, I didn’t know this is precisely what the U.S. Commander in Iraq, General George Casey, was discussing with his superiors in a classified Pentagon briefing written up today in the New York Times. It appears the Pentagon is planning troop withdrawals later this year, and substantial troop withdrawals next year, even as the White House and congressional Republicans blast Democrats for thinking along the same lines. Michael Gordon of the Times connects the dots:
[A]fter criticizing Democratic lawmakers for trying to legislate a timeline for withdrawing troops, skeptics say, the Bush administration seems to have its own private schedule, albeit one that can be adjusted as events unfold.If executed, the plan could have considerable political significance. The first reductions would take place before this falls Congressional elections, while even bigger cuts might come before the 2008 presidential election.
So there you have it: the administration’s secret plan for Iraq, all ready for a fall rollout. Amazing.