PLANNING FOR WITHDRAWAL….With all the scuttlebutt pointing toward a presidential announcement that we’ll start withdrawing troops from Iraq soon, Fred Kaplan asks the right questions:

President Bush is going to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. That no longer seems in doubt. The question is: How does he plan to do it? Which troops will come out first? How quickly? Where will they go? Under what circumstances will they be put back in? Which troops will remain, and what will they do?

….More to the point, does the president have a plan for all this?

If Bush is serious about starting a phased withdrawal from Iraq, then good for him whatever his reasons. But given the history of this war, I hope his political team is kept far, far away from both the planning and the timing of the withdrawal. For that matter, I hope Donald Rumsfeld keeps his opinions to himself too. This time, let’s set some serious military goals and then let the military figure out the rest, midterms be damned. Karl Rove and his pollsters should not be invited to this party.