Political Progress Report

POLITICAL PROGRESS REPORT….Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. “Randy” Mixon said today that he needs more troops in Diyala province:

“I’m going to need additional forces,” he said, “to get that situation to a more acceptable level, so the Iraqi security forces will be able in the future to handle that.”

Mixon was particularly withering in his criticism of the Iraqi government, saying it was hamstrung by bureaucracy and compromised by corruption and sectarian divisions, making it unable to assist U.S. forces in Diyala.

….Mixon’s comments were the first of what could be a succession of blunt evaluations by officers under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a veteran of the Bosnian conflict who is now an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations.

“I suspect the new Defense secretary has told general officers to speak their minds,” Nash said. “It’s going to be hard for some in the administration; suddenly they’re going to feel it from the inside. I think you’re going to see more of it.”

I doubt that every general in Iraq is going to start publicly asking for more troops. They all know the score, after all. But if Nash is right, they might start badmouthing the Iraqi government more bluntly and more frequently — and that might be even more dangerous for the Bush administration’s fairy tales about Iraq than complaints about troop levels. After all, if there’s one thing that everybody seems to finally agree on in Washington, it’s the fact that military progress is meaningless without political progress to go along with it. If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell even within his own party for keeping our troops in harm’s way.