Shall We Dance?

by digby

I love the smell of kabuki in the morning. Smells like ... bs

The influential former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has called on President Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by Christmas.

Republican Sen. John Warner is urging President Bush to begin a troop withdrawal from Iraq in September.

Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican, said Thursday that a pullout was needed to spur Iraqi leaders to action.

He has recommended that Bush announce the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal in mid-September, after a report is released from the top U.S. officials in Iraq, and that those troops should be back in the U.S. by Christmas.

"In my humble judgment, that would get everyone's attention that is not being paid at this time," said Warner.

Warner opposed Bush's January decision to send nearly 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq. But he has so far also opposed Democratic efforts to force Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home.


He and the current Armed Services chairman, Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, recently returned from a visit to Baghdad with harsh words for the al-Maliki government.

Levin said Monday that Iraq's parliament should throw al-Maliki out of office and replace his government.

Warner said he would not join that call. "But in no way do I criticize it," he added.

Warner met at the White House earlier Thursday with Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official responsible for coordinating Iraq issues.

Gosh, I wonder what they said?

I say to the President, respectfully, pick whatever number you wish. You do not want to lose the momentum. But certainly, in the 160,000 plus — say 5,000 — could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year.

The troops (well 5,000 of them anyway) could be coming home for Christmas! Oh happy day.

The press is portraying this as a "tectonic shift," which is what they've been saying about Warner's every utterance for the last three years. It's ridiculous. I don't know if the Great God Petraeus will say that the surge is working so well that we can redeploy 5,000 troops, but I wouldn't be surprised, would you? (Particularly since it's highly likely that 5,000 troops are scheduled to be redeployed anyway.)

The administration is mounting a multi-pronged public relations campaign to show "the surge" is working to shore up any wobbly congressmen. The NIE today reinforces the idea of surging progress. But that isn't the whole story. The NIE also says the political situation is a mess, which it is. Today we find out that Bush's lobbyist allies are now working to depose Maliki and install their favorit puppet Ilyad Allawi. And John "tectonic shift" Warner, (who said that he would not vote with the Democratic withdrawal proposals) also said in his little speech that Prime Minister Maliki is not doing a heckuva job and we need to pressure him to knock some Iraqi heads together (or "somebody" finds someone who will.) And he even admits that is the reason he's calling for withdrawing a few thousand troops. Conventional wisdom seems to be gelling that the problem is Maliki.

Except, of course, it isn't.

Sadly, it appears that more than a few Democrats are going to help the administration buy more time by first agreeing that the surge is working and then actually leading the charge for Bush's next delaying tactic by jumping on the "Maliki is failing our troops" bandwagon.

So, here's how I see the narrative: The surge is working so well that we can bring home 5,000 troops to fight the war on Christmas. But we mustn't set forth any timetables beyond that because things are really starting to move politically over there. Haven't you heard? Everybody's saying that the Prime Minister is on the rocks. That signals political change --- just what we've been waiting for! Hallalujah. All we need to do is hang on just a bit longer to see how that all pans out. (And those troops coming home for Christmas amidst a media blitz not seen since 9/11 no doubt will make the Iraqis believe we are really serious about leaving. Neat huh?)

And then once Maliki is gone, the new PM will need more time, of course, to set in motion his new pony plan. I'd say it's bound to take at least until January 2009.

President Bush will play the role of statesman, backing Maliki publicly but letting it slip every so often that he's not pleased. His spokesman said today that the administration knows absolutely nothing about the high powered Republican lobbying firm filled with ex Bush staffers that's trying to topple Maliki, which was ever so believable. (This is, apparently, their idea of subtly putting pressure on Maliki.)

Bush doesn't need to get out front on this. He's got his lobbyist friends, the intelligence community, the right wing noise machine, Warner and Levin and Clinton and a whole slew of Democratic congressmen fresh from atop their dogs and ponies all making the case for him. If Maliki is deposed, they all will have succeeded in digging the US even further into this mess with absolutely nothing substantive to show for it. The great Allawi pony plan will not solve any problems, they will just create new ones. It's all kabuki, buying time, waiting for a miracle, I guess.

Meanwhile, as Atrios would say, over there...

Poor Lieberman is completely out of the loop. How embarrassing.