Just a few thoughts from watching most of the Petraeus-Crocker show on television so I could write about it for the Register -- too briefly, but . . .
There was nothing much there to surprise anyone who has been paying attention. The Petraeus troop withdrawal proposal is simply what has to happen for personpower/logistical reasons. It would still leave 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq -- the pre-surge level -- with not much of an idea of what constitutes victory. Not that dumbing victory down is such a bad idea when your idea is to bring a quasi-dignified end to a mistaken intervention. It ain't a democratic model to which the rest of the Middle East will gravitate as a moth to a flame, but I would take a fond long-shot hope of relative stability after some steps to reinforce the chances.
I'm afraid what we're hearing, however, is not a strategy for winding the war down, but for keeping it going forever -- or at least until it becomes the next president's problem, and Bush's court biographers will be able to say he did his level best to confront al-Qaida and spread democracy and while the excecution may have been flawed the intention was good.