Facing the inevitable
August 12, 2005
With plummeting public support for the war, an over-stretched military and Cindy Sheehan on his doorstep, President Bush may have no choice but to join the reality-based community:
That disenchantment is one reason, some officials privately acknowledge, that the military has begun talking about a potential timetable for partial withdrawal -- to provide a sense of progress and reassure Americans that the deployment is not endless.
"They want to start withdrawing because they can feel the heat here in the United States," said Larry Diamond, a onetime U.S. adviser in Iraq who has since written "Squandered Victory," a scathing appraisal of the postwar occupation. "They know the tolerance for American casualties and this ongoing bloodshed is not going to go on forever." ...
"It's a race against time because by the end of this coming summer we can no longer sustain the presence we have now," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who visited Iraq most recently in June and briefed Cheney, Rice and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This thing, the wheels are coming off it."
McCaffrey said Bush's strategy of building Iraqi political and security institutions makes sense, and he estimated an 80 percent chance of success. Even so, he said the fading public support represents a genuine hazard for the president: "We want to get out of this. . . . The American people are walking away from this war." [LINK]