I understand that the military is constantly making contingency plans for things that are most unlikely to happen. But the fact that the top military commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, told the press that he had briefed top officials on Washington on contingency plans to keep U.S. combat troops in Iraq past the end-of-August deadline -- after which there will still be 50,000 troops but supposedly not combat troops -- has me a little concerned. Is he launching a trial balloon to see how much resistance there is to the idea because he rather thinks they just might keep combat troops in Iraq longer?
I've been doing some research for a piece to run March 7, the date of the Iraqi parliamentary election, on the political situation in Iraq. It's far from stable, and we're starting to see some ramping-up of violence as the day comes closer. The election commission has disqualified several parties and almost 500 individuals from eligibility to run, most of them Sunni. Remember, the Sunni ran things under Saddam and for a long time before that, and the Shia have grievances. It could take months to form a government after the election and instability is likely to be accompanied by increasing violence. That just might be the justification/excuse for U.S. combat troops to stay longer.
I hope not, but . . .