Bush trusts right-wing bloggers' reports about Iraq over those of U.S. generals …

If anyone fits the description of a "highly-respected career military officer" it's retired general and former CentCom chief Barry McCaffrey.*

For much of the occupation, the general's been upbeat about Iraq. In 2005, he told Congress, "The momentum is now clearly with the Iraqi government and coalition forces" and predicted that Iraq would soon see a "dwindling number of competent, suicide capable jihadist [sic]" (PDF). Last April, he again visited Iraq and wrote another report in which he expressed increasing concern about the situation on the ground, but was still confident that Team USA would pull it out in the end. "The situation is perilous, uncertain, and extreme," he wrote, "but far from hopeless…. There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq."

This week, Barry McCaffrey made another assessment …

An influential retired Army general released a dire assessment of the situation in Iraq, based on a recent round of meetings there with Gen. David H. Petraeus and 16 other senior U.S. commanders.
"The population is in despair," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote in an eight-page document compiled in his capacity as a professor at West Point. "Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate."
McCaffrey found a few causes for optimism, like the fact that U.S. commanders are now targeting senior members of the Mahdi Army.
Nevertheless, his bottom line is that the U.S. military is in "strategic peril" -- a sharp contrast to his previous views …

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