Needless to say, this news does not bode well for the perception that Iraq will be improving by September. In addition, the following does not say much for the odds of progress:
Deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch II, who helped spearhead the recent policy review that led President Bush to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, announced yesterday that he will step down early next month, becoming the latest key aide to depart the White House at a critical juncture.Some of the key architects behind the "surge" are calling it quits. That's a bit odd. You'd think they'd want to hang around for a few months longer to bask in the glow of approval, assuming conditions improve in Iraq. It's not a good sign if these folks have their doubts.
Crouch, the No. 2 official at the National Security Council, has been a pivotal figure on a series of difficult issues, including Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran and the detention policy for terrorism suspects. And it was his interagency group meeting at the White House complex for many weeks last winter that resulted in the ongoing troop buildup in Iraq, which has become the defining decision of the year for Bush.
Crouch becomes the second top official involved in crafting the new Iraq strategy to leave before it is clear if the new approach will work. Meghan O'Sullivan, the deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, also plans to resign soon.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon report released on Friday suggests "that extended tours and multiple deployments, among other policy decisions, could escalate anger and increase the likelihood that soldiers or marines lash out at civilians, or defy military ethics....no small concern since the United States’ counterinsurgency doctrine emphasizes the importance of winning the trust and support of the local population."
An Army general predicts an increase in U.S. military deaths this summer as Congress hopes to observe improvement then, and in the process our soldiers continue to get stretched to their limit, to the point where mental issues have set in making the circumstances that much more dangerous for all involved.
You think GW is connecting the dots? Doubtful. In December 2005, Newsweek wrote about "Bush's Bubble" and this week the cover story for U.S. News discusses much of this same topic.
I've written how scary this state of forced, artificial comfort in the White House could be for the rest of us. The three D's (detachment, delusion, and desperation) are a recipe for disaster. Twenty months to go, keep your fingers crossed.