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Weekend Roundup

From This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

On the Surge

GENERAL KEANE: In terms of the strategy itself, it’s a fundamental change in the mission. The mission, people are focusing on the surge of the troops, but the essence of it is we changed the mission to the security of the people in Baghdad. We’ve never taken that on as a military mission before. Our mission has been transition to the Iraqi security forces and we made some inadequate attempts to secure Baghdad twice in the past.

We cleared out the insurgents and the Shia death squads from the areas but never committed ourselves to phase two of the operation, which is significant, and that is to put a 24/7 force in the neighborhoods to protect the people and they do not go back to their bases at night. It is a security of the people that’s the key to success.

Baghdad would probably take . . . well into the fall of the year. And then we would turn to al-Anbar with a different mission. . . . And that would take another six to seven months, and that would probably go into ‘08, as well.

The economic package to this is very important. It has two phases to it. The first one would be basic services while we’re protecting the people. And then another economic package for enhanced quality of life services that would be tied to an incentive package in terms of their cooperation and their willingness to help us in turning over who the death squad members are and who the insurgents are.

And that takes time for the people to realize that this really is a secure situation. And bring the economic packages in and they begin to isolate the insurgents who are trying to sneak back in. Our problem in the past in Fallujah, in Samara, twice in Baghdad, has always been the same problem, we ran the insurgents out and we never put the protection force in to secure the people.

From the Fox News Sunday roundtable:

BILL KRISTOL: I think, with the departure of Secretary Rumsfeld, that the president decided a month ago I have to take charge of this war. . . . And I think the president believes in the option articulated especially by retired army vice chief of staff Jack Keane . . . that we can surge troops, that it . . . will stabilize Baghdad, it will give us a real chance to get the situation enough under control to allow the political process to begin again. I think the president’s convinced that that’s the way to go.

[Y]ou need to have security before you can ask Maliki to turn on the Shia sectarian militia. You need to have security before you can ask Iraqis to commit to this effort once again . . .

I’ve talked . . . to a lot of military guys just back from Iraq. . . . These people do not believe that this is a hopeless endeavor. They think another five brigades in Iraq — which in Baghdad, which is doable, two regimental combat teams in Anbar, could really put pressure on the insurgents.

We haven’t tried to pressure them in two places at once, incidentally. And . . . I think the plan the president is going to adopt is going to go for Baghdad and for Anbar to really try to put pressure on the Sunni insurgency, suppress that, then turn to the Shia sectarian militias, is a reasonable plan.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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