Anyone who didn't see this coming wasn't pay much attention.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, General David Petraeus called for a 45-day “period of consolidation and evaluation” after the extra combat forces that Bush ordered to Iraq last year have completed their pullout in July. Read about it here. And here's the kicker, quoting from the Associated Press article:
Bush is expected to accept Petraeus' recommendation.Of course, back in winter of 2006-2007, many people suspected that the term "surge" was just a marketing gimmick that meant "escalation." Now, just as with every other suspicion that critics have had regarding the motives and agenda of the Bush administration, the suspicions about the surge are being confirmed. Hiding behind the supposed expertise of General Petraeus, Bush intends to see this through to the bloody end.
Joining him in this endeavor is presumptive GOP Presidential nominee, John McCain, who has never been bashful about his praise for Petraeus, whom he has called "one of [America's] greatest generals." And why not? It's always safe to praise a general in the field, and McCain's presidential ambitions hinge on the perception of success that only Petraeus can deliver.
But, putting aside McCain's lickspittle commentary, Petraeus doesn't really seem all that admirable. Let's not forget that Petraeus became the Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) in January 2007, just as Bush was pushing his "surge" idea. It doesn't take much imagination to suspect that Petraeus was selected to replace General George Casey precisely because he agreed to support the idea of the "surge." And remember back in September 2007, when Petraeus delivered his report to Congress, we learned that the report was actually written by the White House, and contradicted a report by the US GAO that indicated that the surge was a failure. Petraeus seems to be little more than another soldier who abdicates his own responsibilities in favor of the easy out: "Just following orders."
Bush and the neo-conservatives are maintaining a low profile throughout the testimony. But secretly, one must imagine they are rubbing their hands with glee. The "surge" has become what they had hoped: an increased and open-ended commitment to their disastrous policy.
The three major presidential contenders are all seated on the Armed Services Committee and will, therefore, have their chance to grandstand, but there will be little effort to change the course in Iraq for the remainder of Bush's term.
Has the surge been a success? Well, not if you use the criteria that were initially set for it. And the recent flare-up in violence, which should indicate how little the surge has really accomplished, is now being used as a reason to maintain troop levels, to defer a troop draw-down.
This long nightmare, initiated by small-minded, but ambitious people, rages on. The tally of the dead, of the maimed, of the ruined continues to grow.