Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hey, I'm Just The General. He's The Decider

You know, it must be tough being John Abizaid. Well, maybe we should rephrase that. It must be tough being one of the John Abizaids. We mean, you have the one John Abizaid who says sectarian violence in Iraq is the worst he's ever seen, then after a visit from vice president Cheney you have the other John Abizaid who says things are just peachy in Iraq. Then you have the troops are coming home, John Abizaid, and after that the troops are staying John Abizaid. What do you get a guy like that for Christmas? An eraser the size of a basketball?

"Well, you have to understand, we haven't had a handle on what's happening here since...aww, who am I kidding? We never had a handle on what's happening here," General Abzaid told reporters. "Don't tell Cheney I said that."

Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said he had expected U.S. troop levels to be lower than the current 147,000 -- the highest in Iraq since early January. "Or maybe higher, I'm not sure. One or the other," he said.

"I think that this level will probably have to be sustained through the spring, and then we'll reevaluate," Abizaid told reporters. "Unless we have to reevaluate before that. Or maybe after. It depends. What was the question?"

"I think these are prudent force levels. Unless of course they aren't, in which case we'll need to reprudentize," Abizaid said, without ruling out the possibility of even more troops. "Unless of course we don't need them," he added.

There are currently 147,000 U.S. forces in Iraq — up more than 20,000 from the troop levels in late June. Rumsfeld extended the one-year deployment of an Alaska-based brigade in July, as part of the effort to stem the escalating violence in Baghdad. "Hey, you don't think I'm going to extend a unit from around here, do you?" Rumsfeld asked. "I don't want those terrorist loving, America hating military families in my face every day."

Abizaid said Tuesday that there are no plans to further extend the deployment of the Alaska Stryker brigade. "We finally managed to make the Secretary understand why the never ending deployment was a bad thing," the General said. "We just asked him how he would feel if he could never get court time again at the club. He understood perfectly after that."

"Look, war is messy business," Abizaid said. "And when that war is being run by the three stooges just being messy means it's a good day. Don't tell Cheney I said that."

Later General Abizaid was seen in front of the cafeteria menu deciding on dinner. He was still there at closing time.

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