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Preview of tonight’s speech



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Based on a just-completed White House background briefing, it looks like the President’s new Iraq strategy to be unveiled tonight looks promising.

The Administration recognizes a lot of what has gone wrong, for example, that is was unrealistic to assume that political progress could be made while the security situation remained so ghastly. The new emphasis is on security first. Five new American brigades will be sent to Baghdad to work with new Iraqi brigades securing the capital block by block. Unclear whether this will be sufficient force. Rules of engagement also to change so that there will be no more areas off limits to American forces.

The President also plans to ask for a larger army – a little late and so necessary! It will be interesting to see how the Democrats in Congress handle that one. All that talk of supporting the troops. . .

Possible problem areas: the strategy still depends heavily on Maliki’s bona fides. They believe his heart is the right place but he has suffered from lack of “capabilities.” That’s a gamble. There is also a “regional” component to the new strategy that seems to rely on another push for Israeli/Palestinian cooperation (Rice is traveling to Middle East within the week). That sounds like Baker/Hamilton bunk, but let’s see what she says.

Still, most of it sounds exactly right.



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