What’s going to happen after September? Petraeus refuses to tip his hand but does acknowledge that the surge won’t have accomplished its task by the time he delivers his progress report to Congress. McConnell’s coy too but hints that everyone anticipates a new strategy with different troop levels come the fall and that it’s probably going to look an awful lot like Baker-Hamilton: pull back, withdraw troops, and redefine the mission to limit it to targeting Al Qaeda and training the Iraqi army. The new offensive may be a harbinger of the new strategy. At least one Republican presidential candidate is already on board.
Anticipating the power vacuum and his role in filling it, Sadr continues to polish his image as an Iraqi nationalist by taking a swipe at Iran. Meanwhile, in Diyala province, to the horror of the Shiite and Kurdish leadership, U.S. troops are forced to buddy up with Sunni insurgents. They’ve even got their own gear:
Dozens of militia members have been outfitted by American troops with brown T-shirts spray-painted with numbers and will soon be provided with cards identifying them as members of “the Concerned Local Nationals.”
The gunmen are allowed large caches of AK-47s and ammunition, and they are promised eventual positions in the Baqubah police force.
Update: Back in D.C., Harry Reid seeks to appease angry anti-war nutroots voters: “We raised the bar too high.”