General Petraeus finished delivering his prepared remarks to the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees not long ago — and I’ve already been interviewed about them by the local NPR station (WFPL).
Basically, I concluded that his report was not surprising. Most analysts expected an optimistic assessment that would not call for a substantial reduction in American troops. The General is only talking about returning the US troop level to pre-surge levels by mid-July 2008. A modest proposal, eh?
I also noted a few points that General Petraeus did not address (though many in the blogosphere have):
- What about seasonal violence? Yes, violence is down since the surge began in mid-June. But violence goes down every summer when it is hot. How much different was it this year?
- What about the refugees? How much of the decline in ethnic violence is attributable to the fact that up to 100,000 Iraqis are fleeing the country every month?
- What about winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis? Petraeus did not mention the latest ABC/BBC/NHK poll finding that nearly 60% of Iraqis think it is acceptable to target American troops. How can counterinsurgency succeed in such a context?
In short, I wasn’t shocked, or awed.