TIMETABLES….The LA Times reports that high-ranking military officers are warming up to the idea of deadlines and timetable in Iraq:

“Deadlines could help ensure that the Iraqi leaders recognize the imperative of coming to grips with the tough decisions they’ve got to make for there to be progress in the political arena,” said a senior Army officer who has served in Iraq. He asked that his name not be used because he did not want to publicly disagree with the stated policy of the president.

….Some in the military argue that publicizing a timetable for reducing forces is far less damaging to a counterinsurgency campaign than the administration has suggested.

Many officers, particularly those who adhere to the military philosophy of former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired Army general who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believe that deadlines are necessary to avoid getting mired in an endless war fueled by enmity between Iraq’s long-subjugated Shiite population and the Sunni Arabs who ran the government under Saddam Hussein.

Two years ago, this might have done some good. Today, I’m not so sure, though it’s certainly worth a try.

Regardless, it’s nice to hear that there are at least a few rumblings among the officer corps. Three decades ago, after the Vietnam War, they swore they’d speak up before they’d allow the civilian leadership to lead them into a ditch again without protest, but that’s pretty much what they’ve done in Iraq. If the Iraq debacle reminds them of that promise, at least it will have accomplished something.

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