Thursday, April 10, 2008

Iraq Fatigue

I awoke this morning to hear an NPR story announcing that from August on, US troops sent to Iraq will be serving 12-month tours instead of the current 15 months. So far as this gives troops a shorter tour in a bad war, I'm glad for it. But I can't shake the feeling that this announcement is part of a Bush administration effort to acknowledge fatigue with the war without really changing fundamental policies in any way.

The military has, of course, warned the president that Iraq is wearing down our armed forces. But I suspect that the president is responding to more than the military here.

If this announcement is part of a media management strategy, it is something of a success: it creates an illusion of movement and change after two days of vague and bleak testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker before the House and Senate. (The second day of testimony seems to have had so little new to say that it barely made the front page of the Times.)

In the presidential race, the reduction in the length of tours may give John McCain something to wave before voters who want to see a change in our Iraq policy.

But compared to the full course correction that is needed, it doesn't amount to much.

It is one more sign, if one was needed, that the Bush administration will simply hand off the war to the next administration.

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