I hadn’t seen any footage of him speaking until today and I figured many of you are in the same boat, so here’s the man one of the Freepers is calling “Betraus.” Why? Because he suggested that instead of hunting them to the last man, which would be impossible anyway, we might need to negotiate with some of the Sunni jihadist and Shiite militia groups — but not the Mahdi Army, for which he sees no role. The boss says this is already common knowledge among the troops she spoke with in Baghdad. It’s apparently common knowledge in the White House too because not only is the U.S.-Iran tete a tete still on for this weekend, it might include bilateral talks.
Pelosi unveiled the long-awaited Democratic compromise pullout plan about an hour ago: withdrawal will begin by the end of this year if Maliki can’t meet the security and economic benchmarks set for him, and if he can, then withdrawal will begin next March with everyone out by fall 2008. (In fact, the doviest doves will submit an alternate bill calling for unconditional withdrawal by December 31.) We’ll see what happens to that now that Odierno has said he needs a surge until at least next February, and now that Petraeus himself has formally announced “encouraging signs” from the surge.
Update: Politico puts the Pelosi plan in starker terms: in a worst case scenario, if Maliki can’t meet the first benchmark set for him, withdrawal would have to begin immediately after July 1. Petraeus and Odierno have said repeatedly they won’t know whether the surge is working systemically until the summer.
Update: The House debate should be lively.
Update: White House counsel Dan Bartlett advises Pelosi to reconsider:
[W]hat this is, is a political compromise in the Democratic caucus of the House, aimed at bringing comity to their internal politics, not reflective of the conditions on the ground in Iraq. It would unnecessarily handcuff our generals on the ground, and it’s safe to say it’s a non-starter for the President…
[T]he leader of the Republicans in the House, Boehner, Leader Boehner, has already had a press conference declaring their opposition to this legislation. Obviously, the administration would vehemently oppose and ultimately veto any legislation that looked like what was described today. Again, we don’t have all the details, there’s as lot of definitional purposes, but what we’re seeing here is an artificial, precipitous withdrawal from Iraq based on, unfortunately, politics in Washington, not on conditions on the ground in Baghdad, Iraq.
Update: Even Michael Ware, CNN’s Baghdad correspondent, thinks the Democratic timetable plays into the hands of America’s enemies.
Update: Reid’s plan in the Senate actually calls for withdrawal before Pelosi’s does — “within one hundred twenty days” of the bill’s passage, with all troops out by March 31 of next year. They know it doesn’t stand a chance. It’s pure grandstanding.