Monday, May 21, 2007

Gen. Pace: Sept = Evaluation; End of Terror War is Like Chicago?

Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke in Chicago last week and made some comments that appear to say two things of significance.
One, though he doesn't use the words benchmark or deadline, Pace clearly has set September as the month to evaluate Bush's surge strategy for Iraq. I believe this is the first time he's publicly joined other politicians and strategists and endorsed what some GOP leaders might label an artificial timeline on the war's progress.
And second, Pace presented his picture of what the end of the war on terrorism will look like--something akin to the middle American city of Chicago. I honestly don't get the sense that this general sees a total victory in the offing out of the mess Bush has made not just of Iraq, but also in his anti-terrorism policies.
From the May 18 American Forces Press Service article, the Pentagon's news service totally committed to always putting an upbeat spin on military matters:
By September, military officials will have a pretty good feel for whether the “military part” of the president’s surge strategy is working, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace said here today. . .

On the surge, Pace explained that four of the five brigades of about 3,000 to 3,500 troops each that the U.S. military is “plussing up” are currently in Iraq. The fifth is in Kuwait and will be in Iraq by the beginning of June.

“From June until September,” he said, “we’ll have the opportunity to watch the increased U.S. presence on the ground, and the increased Iraqi unit presence on the ground, and the effect that it has on security, primarily in Baghdad.”
Those sentiments about a September evaluation are very much in tune with what House Minority Leader John Boehner has been saying this month, and back in January.
"By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."
Sure, it's good to see Pace getting on board the "let's analyze the troop surge in September" bandwagon, I won't be surprised if he and others say at that time that need to wait until December for a better picture of security in Baghdad to emerge.
And what are we to make of Pace's remarks, summarized by the American Forces Press Service reporter, that the end of the terrorism war, as waged by Bush and Company, will resemble the city of Chicago?

More from the May 18 AFPS story:

Success in the war on terrorism, Pace said, is not like the success of World War II. The end state will be much more like the current state of a U.S. city, such as Chicago.

“Is there violence here? Yes,” he said. “Is there a police force that keeps that violence below a level at which the government can function and the citizenry can go about their daily business? This is what you’re looking at with the war on terror. …

“You’ll never stop all terrorist acts,” he said. The goal is to have “the security is solid enough so that the government can provide leadership and so the business world can provide jobs so people can prosper.”

Damn, those words sound remarkably familiar to my political ears, which hear the general basically saying terrorism could become a nuisance, something that doesn't wholly disappear, but something we learn to live with.
I hear solid echoes of a statement Sen. John Kerry made to the NY Times Sunday Magazine in October 2004, that brought forth condemnations and commercials from the Bush team. From the Times:

''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

I don't think it's a great stretch of a political nature to see deep similarities in Kerry's comments almost three years ago, and the remarks made last week in Chicago by Pace.
Seems that Kerry in 2004 to the NY Times spoke some obvious truths about modern terrorism and dealing with it, which sadly cranked up the Karl Rove election war machine against him, and we now have the nation's top military commander saying basically the same thing, only the mainstream press not only doesn't report on Pace's Chicago comments, the media doesn't look at the larger context, that being America's war on terrorism and getting our troops home safely from Iraq.

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