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War Without End

By Helen Thomas, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

WASHINGTON - Surprise, surprise. Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, wants to put a halt to any more troop withdrawals for the foreseeable future.

The highly politicized Petraeus seemed to be dutifully following his White House marching orders when he testified before congressional committees earlier this week.

Under his scenario, there will be no drawdown of U.S. forces in that strife-ridden country until President Bush leaves office.

That’s fine with Bush, who obviously has no intention of ending this futile war on his watch. Apparently feeling no responsibility for starting the war, Bush is planning to pass the Iraqi debacle on to his successor.

You can forget accountability for the yet-to-be defined U.S. military mission which has taken more than 4,000 American lives, possibly a million Iraqi lives and destroyed a country.

Think of President Harry Truman and President Lyndon B. Johnson, who both understood that war was too important to be left to the generals in the field.

Truman fired the popular Gen. Douglas MacArthur because he disobeyed orders in the Korean War. Johnson knew that he had reached the endgame in Vietnam when Gen. William Westmoreland, the top commander in Vietnam, requested 240,000 more troops in 1968 for the prolonged war that also could not be won.

Those two presidents finally drummed up enough courage to just say “no.”

Petraeus is too smart to be pinned down on when the U.S. can pull out more troops, especially when there’s been a new flare-up of sectarian violence in Iraq. Let’s say he is careful and self-protective, trying to hold on.

When Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told him: “What you have given to your chain of command is a plan which has no end to it.”

The general replied: “Withdrawing too many forces too quickly could jeopardize the progress of the past year.”

Congress should wake up before it’s too late and listen to retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency.

NSA is the nation’s largest intelligence agency which monitors messages from all over the world.

Odom testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and urged an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He claimed the troop surge (escalation) has prolonged instability in Iraq and that the only “sensible strategy” is “rapid withdrawal.”

In a separate speech last week, the outspoken general said, “We are certainly to blame for the chaos in Iraq” but “we do not have the physical means to prevent it.”

Odom said the military situation in Iraq is worsened by “the proliferation of armed groups under local military chiefs who follow a proliferating number of political bosses.”

“We are witnessing … the road to Balkanization of Iraq, that is political fragmentation,” Odom said

War makes strange bedfellows.

The Sunnis are now on our side — if we continue to pay them enough, of course. They would be happy to see the U.S. attack Shiite-dominated Iran. Odom said those new-found friends threaten to defect unless their fees are increased.

“The concern we hear the president and his aides express about a residual base left for al-Qaida if we withdraw is utter nonsense, ” Odom said. “The Sunnis will destroy al-Qaida if we leave Iraq,” he added. “The Kurds will not allow them in their region and the Shiites “detest” al-Qaida, he said.

Although the U.S. economic recession is expected to dominate the presidential election race, Iraq won’t be on the back burner if the Petraeus hearings are any guide.

The three presidential hopefuls — Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. and Barack Obama, D-Ill. — showed up at the high-profile hearings where Petraeus testified.

As expected, staunch-war supporter McCain said any promise to withdraw U.S. forces “would constitute a failure of political and moral leadership.”

In their disappointing comments, the Democratic rivals were as cautious as Petraeus.

Clinton said “it’s time to begin an orderly withdrawal of our troops.”

Obama told Petraeus that while he wants U.S. troops out of Iraq, he “would not initiate a precipitous withdrawal.”

Ohio’s GOP Sen. George Voinovich seemed to express the frustration best when he told Petraeus: “The American people have had it up to here.”

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail:


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BushCo...Traitors and War Criminals all.

Pres. Reagan was given credit for the demise of the Soviet Union when all along it was the terrorists that were responsible (they were not called "terrorists" back then). Who's going to take credit when the USA says no mas?

I feel like I am telling my children there is no Santa Claus, but, you know, there isn't!


"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't stupidity get us out?" This seems to be the strategy of our illustrious Congress. Any congressperson buying into this needs to be sent packing this November.

DonP Helen is the only MSM jouralist with the balls to say what is true, and the only reporter hated by both the White House and the White House press pool. This has always told me all I need to know about Helen and the rest of the syncophants an catamites in the MSM.

enriching Bush croneys, bankrupting America, socially, politically and economically. Now, the idiot republicans are beating the war drum against Iran!
What will it take for Americans to rise up and say "ENOUGH?" We have lost all our civil rights to a facist regime that only intends to continue the destruction until this nation is destroyed.
Divide and conquer, the oldest adage in the world. That is what we are experiencing. If the congress worked for us, these criminals would be facing war crime charges. As it stands, they simply get richer as our middle class is eaten away. Their spy equipment puts us on the defense like the enemy, our economy is drained, and this nation is dying. Why aren't people in the streets? How much do we have to lose before realizing it is too late? If Bush & Co escape the white house without prosecution, our rights are gone forever.
How many of you know President Bush has the power to dissolve Congress in the event of a national emergency? It is true, passed by Ronald Reagan. Think Bush might try it?

Marilyn Gjerdrum

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