The President vs. The Pentagon Part III: Iraq Withdrawal and Phased Afghan Surge

Posted: 20 February 2009 by Editors in Af-Pak War, International Affairs
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Gareth Porter on AntiWar Radio with Scott Horton discussing his recent article, “Commanders in Iraq Challenge Petraeus on Pullout Risk”, and today’s article where he compares Obama’s 17,000 troop surge with LBJ’s ’65 surge into Vietnam in the face of a nearly $600m new embassy in Iraq and his $60m Afghan prison expansion.

AntiWar Radio – Scott Horton Interviews Gareth Porter – 20 Feb 09 (22:38):

Gareth Porter, independent researcher and journalist, discusses the continuing struggle over control of the Iraq war narrative, the influence of retired general Jack Keane on the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy, the surprising strength and stability of the Iraqi government and why General Petraeus’s proposal for an extended Iraq withdrawal is a ploy get more time to scuttle the SOFA agreement. – “Commanders in Iraq Challenge Petraeus on Pullout Risk” by Gareth Porter – 18 Feb 09:

CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus and Multinational Force Iraq (MNF-I) Commander Gen. Ray Odierno have submitted assessments of Iraq combat-troop withdrawal plans to President Barack Obama based on the premise that his 16-month withdrawal plan would pose significantly greater risk to “security gains” than the 23-month plan they favor.

But a senior commander in Iraq appeared to contradict that premise last week by declaring that security gains in the Shi’ite provinces of Iraq are “permanent,” and a field commander in Iraq says there is no objective basis for any Petraeus-Odierno finding that Obama’s plan carries greater risk than their 23-month plan.

Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, U.S. commander for the eight southern provinces of Iraq, denied in remarks to reporters Feb. 12 that the security gains in that region were fragile, contrary to the premise that Odierno has publicly asserted. Oates cited the dramatic reduction in activities by Shi’ite militia fighters and the holding of the Jan. 31 elections without any major attacks. [read the full article]

Inter-Press Services – “Obama Nixed Full Surge After Quizzing Brass” by Gareth Porter – 20 Feb 09:

President Barack Obama decided to approve only 17,000 of the 30,000 troops requested by Gen. David McKiernan, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and Gen. David Petraeus, the CENTCOM commander, after McKiernan was unable to tell him how they would be used, according to a White House source.

But Obama is likely to be pressured by McKiernan and the Joint Chiefs to approve the remaining 13,000 troops requested after the completion of an Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review next month.

Obama’s decision to approve just over half the full troop request for Afghanistan recalls a similar decision by President Lyndon B. Johnson to approve only part of the request for U.S. troop deployments in a parallel situation in the Vietnam War in April 1965 at a comparable stage of that war. Johnson reluctantly went along with the request for additional troops within weeks under pressure from both the field commander and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The request for 30,000 additional troops, which would bring the U.S. troop level in Afghanistan to more than 60,000, had been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as by Defence Secretary Robert Gates before Obama’s inauguration. A front-page story in the Washington Post Jan. 13 reported that Obama was ready to “sign off” on the deployment request. [read the full article]

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