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To buy time for his buildup of more than 28,000 troops to show results, Bush asked his commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, to deliver a progress report to the nation in early September.
That helped stave off Republican defections as Congress debated whether to impose a timetable for troop withdrawals. But it also established September as a deadline for clearer military and political progress in Iraq, a tactical concession for a White House that long has refused to accept any benchmarks or timetables for evaluating the war, now 4 years old.
Democratic and Republican members of Congress already are focusing on September as their next major decision point on the war — planning hearings to debate Petraeus' findings and, in the Democrats' case, promising new attempts to force Bush to withdraw troops.
By September, the troop buildup will have been underway for more than six months. Unless there is dramatic improvement in Iraq, public support for the war will probably have eroded further. And by September, skittish Republicans will be four months closer to starting their reelection campaigns.
Petraeus, who calls himself "a qualified optimist" on the war, has warned that his report may not satisfy anyone who wants a purely bullish assessment.
"People always want to get a sense of thumbs up or thumbs down," he said in an interview last week. "What I'd like to provide is a nuanced paragraph. And what we'll end up with is something in between."
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the surge isn't working.... it hasn't been working.... it was never going to work...
they hate us, and will for generations... we've created far more enemies than we've ever dreamed of thwarting.... we weren't "welcomed as liberators"...
Reid and Pelosi should just keep submitting that bill each month... so we can keep tabs on exactly which law makers keep voting against the override and sending more and more american soldiers into the meat grinder for Bush's war of "pre-emption" against the wrong enemy ....