General David Petreaus told a congressional committee he wanted a 45 day moratorium on withdrawal of American forces from Iraq once the surge concludes. “At the end of that period, we will commence a process of assessment to examine the conditions on the ground and, over time, determine when we can make recommendations for further reductions.” He urged the need for flexibility so that his command can make necessary adjustments in light of the situation in Iraq. As Senator Levin noted, “what you’ve given to your chain of command is a plan which has no end to it.”
The reality is that each month since January has witnessed an ever increasing rise in the number of American soldiers killed and wounded as well as Iraq civilians. Although Ambassador Crocker argues there is steady improvement in Iraq’s government, there is absolutely no evidence Prime Minister Maliki has won over the Sunni population, let alone Shiite militants such as the Mahdi militia of Muqtada al-Sadr. The political situation is at a stalemate.
General Petraeus is an honorable man who seeks to win a war, but neither he nor the Bush administration has any comprehension as to the meaning of “win the war.” Has anyone clearly defined the meaning of “winning?” Unlike, in most wars America has fought, the government was clear about war aims, but the Bush administration has never gotten past rhetorical statements of “victory.”
Perhaps, it is time to review possibilities of a three nation solution in which the Sunnis have their own government, the Shiites have a government, and everyone finally admits the Kurds have a functioning government that has no need of anything to do with Iraq. A three nation solution at least defines clearly what constitutes victory.