Gen. Petraeus has not finalized his troop withdrawal proposals but he is being pressured to provide more than merely cosmetic reductions:
General Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, did not say how many combat troops might be withdrawn, or from which parts of the country they would come.
“I am still formulating the options that I will provide to the president and the recommendations that I will make,” he told the House Armed Services Committee. “But I do believe there will be some combat forces included in those options and in that recommendation.”
A range of administration, Pentagon and military officials have said that the first American troops to come home in July are expected to be engineers and support troops, rather than combat soldiers, particularly because fighting is expected to be intense this summer and American commanders do not want to lose the territory they have gained.
But General Petraeus is seeking to balance demands from the military with the White House’s insistence on something more than cosmetic withdrawals in July. He met with President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Monday.
Closer to home, Petraeus' son just returned from a tour in Afghanistan:
On a personal note, General Petraeus told the committee that his son, Lt. Stephen Petraeus, a 2009 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had returned home this fall after serving as an infantry platoon leader in Afghanistan.
“You know, I may not be at this table — probably won’t be at 2015 — but I’ll tell you that my son is in uniform, and Lieutenant Petraeus just completed a tour in Afghanistan, which thankfully we were able to keep very quiet,” the general said.
Meanwhile, Obma is sweating the early upsets in the NCAAs. We're all under a lot of pressure.
MORE: Peggy Noonan lauds the effort of our troops and civilians in Afghanistan, but is getting ready to quit. She closes with a good line from the Pashtun:
America has now been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union was; we mark the 10th anniversary of our presence in October. The surge is on, and we'll know more in six months. But I'm thinking of a Pashtun taunt sometimes thrown at Americans: "You have the watches, but we have the time."
My inner Jersey Guy thinks that "Yeah? Watch this" or "I've got something for ya to watch right here" would be a suitable rejoinder. Unless one went in a different direction and chose to reminesce about how much time one had for the Pashtun's mother and sister... Well, I doubt that woud be a helpful path to nation building.
STILL MORE: Roger Cohen of the Times, whom I consider to be a non-delusional lefty, says we need to go big or go home.
LONDON — For years I watched a “no-fly zone” in Bosnia. I watched Bosnian Muslims being slaughtered as NATO patrolled the skies. The no-fly zone was created by the United Nations Security Council in October 1992. The Srebrenica massacre took place in July 1995. Enough said.
The Bosnian no-fly zone was an attempt to assuage Western consciences after the Serb killing spree against Muslims in the first six month of the war. It was not about saving lives: Lifting the grotesque arms embargo on Bosnia might have achieved that. It was about allowing politicians in Washington and Paris to feel they’d done something, however feeble, about genocide.
Having witnessed hypocrisy most foul in Bosnia — the West, in Margaret Thatcher’s words, became “accomplice to a massacre” — I refuse to will similar hypocrisy on the brave resistance fighters of Benghazi who face Muammar el-Qaddafi’s superior tanks, now moving relentlessly eastward. No-fly zones are for the birds.
And now, in Libya?
What’s clear to me is that there is no halfway house. Spurn conscience-salving gestures. The case against going in prevails unless the West, backed and joined by the Arab League, decides it will, ruthlessly, stop, defeat, remove and, if necessary, kill Qaddafi in short order. I’m skeptical, even after a vote from the United Nations authorizing "all necessary measures," that this determination can be forged. Only if it can be does intervention make sense.
Since the First Ditherer is letting France and the UN take the lead here, I don't see how "Go Big" is an option.