Bush will hand war’s woes to his successor
The president has decided he will stay the course on troop levels in Iraq.
Some of President Bush's supporters are shopping the notion that the Iraq war is something of a gift to the next occupant of the White House because he or she can make Americans happy by beginning to withdraw U.S. troops from the morass.
The cynical idea would be funny if not for the intractable circumstances the next president will confront with as many as 140,000 battle-strained soldiers in country, no framework for a stable Iraqi government or a capable Iraqi security force, and a Middle East region critically unsettled by the invasion.
Having accepted that he will be back on the ranch long before the greater number of troops return home, Bush should not bind the next administration to continued U.S. commitments in Iraq. He would do better to seek a temporary extension of the U.N. mandate that allows for foreign troops in Iraq, set to expire in December, and stand down from creating a new "status of forces agreement" he will not be around to fulfill.
With only nine months left in his presidency, Bush has agreed to give Gen. David Petraeus, his top commander in Iraq, "all the time he needs" to assess troop strength after already planned withdrawals end in July. Assuring major U.S. presence for his successor, he said, increases the likelihood that Iraq will be more stable, an assessment difficult to accept after five years of fluctuating levels of chaos.
In any case, Bush's decision assures the war will not be won or lost on his watch.
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