Briefly Updating Boot

In a feature article entitled “We Are Winning. We Haven’t Won.” in this week’s Weekly Standard, Max Boot elaborates on his assessment of the Surge based on his recent sojourn in Iraq. It turns out that he and Bing West, who published a condensed version of the longer article in Monday’s Los Angeles Times, traveled to Iraq “at the invitation of Gen. David Petraeus,” which may cast some additional light on his dismissive comment about Petraeus’ superior officer, CentCom chief Adm. William Fallon. Unfortunately, there is nothing in either the Times op-ed or the longer Weekly Standard piece that indicates why Fallon is “unimpressive.”

What is more interesting about the two articles is that, like Kagan, they emphasize that reducing U.S. forces below the pre-Surge level (which Boot says was 140,000, rather than the more commonly cited 130,000 or 135,000) carries unacceptable risks: “Petraeus has his hands full,” he writes with West. “His task will become more difficult if shortsighted officials in Washington [note that’s it’s officials — meaning the Pentagon — and not lawmakers] push for even more troops reductions later this year.” So the hawks’ line is clear: Bush should resist Congressional and Pentagon pressure to reduce troop levels below 140,000.

The other, perhaps more-important message conveyed by Boot and West fresh from his Petraeus-sponsored tour of Iraq is that Washington should ditch President Maliki if he does not prove more cooperative with U.S. strategy in achieving national reconciliation, and particularly in integrating the Sunni Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs) into Iraq’s official security forces. In ironic testimony to the political progress achieved by the nearly five-year occupation, the two authors note that “…Maliki wouldn’t last a day without coalition [U.S.] support.”

Meanwhile, Washington may be engineering regime change in the other country liberated by its “global war on terror” — Afghanistan — where it has become increasingly disillusioned with what it regards as the insularity, corruption, and flakiness of President Hamid Karzai, according to the latest issue of Newsweek. The magazine reports that U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, who presumably has dual citizenship, believes that he may be a good replacement.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. There will be no supporting evidence to back up Boot’s assessment that Fallon is “unimpressive.” Fallon earned the ire of the neoconservatives because – from all accounts – not for dereliction of duty or malfeasance in his comission, but because he jugged up any idiotic plots to expand our Mideast “nation-building” to Iran.

    Added to that, as an old-school, no-nonsense type, he probably chafes at the guttersnipe power wielded by chickenhawks like Boot (and past, “classic” Zionist sahibs like Douglas Feith) – who’d soil themselves at the sound of anything louder than a titmouse chirp.

    Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper noted the tendency of the Israeli Lobby to engage in negative politicking to advance their agenda. We’re seeing it in action: They’re drawing a bead on the career of a Naval officer whose great breach is doing his duty.

  2. “Walt and Mearsheimerâ??s paper noted the tendency of the Israeli Lobby to engage in negative politicking to advance their agenda. Weâ??re seeing it in action: Theyâ??re drawing a bead on the career of a Naval officer whose great breach is doing his duty.”

    Why is everything the Israeli lobby?

    I expect the neo-cons are looking toward a McCain presidency as a chance to continue and extend the Iraq conflict.

    They want to make sure that withdrawal isn’t a done deal before the election.

  3. When Khalilzad was U.S. Ambassador to Iraq–having been promoted from being U.S. Ambassador to the Afghan Backwater–Iraqis affectionately referred to him as “The Afghan Hound.” I’m sure the Afghans will be even more affectionate if he’s enthroned over them as Mayor of Kabul.

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