NOT ENOUGH TROOPS….Newsweek reports that George Bush “continues to believe in” Iraqi prime minister Kamal al-Maliki, but says that feeling is far from universal:

The American military is fed up with Maliki. The ground commanders in Iraq felt betrayed by him this summer when he undermined a push to get control of the streets of Baghdad. The Iraqis failed to deliver on a promise to put enough troops on the ground. A four-star general who declined to be identified discussing a confidential conversation told of this encounter with Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who was in charge of day-to-day ground operations. “Do you have enough forces? Enough to clear an area and stay there to secure it 24/7?” Chiarelli replied, “Of course not.” The four-star recalls replying, “It’s going to fail, it’s absolutely going to fail.” The Americans never had enough forces to sweep even half the city, much less secure it.

….It’s not clear whether the military made its frustrations known to the White House.

I can’t quite tell from this passage whether Chiarelli and the anonymous four-star are speaking strictly about a lack of Iraqi forces or whether this is also a comment about the number of U.S. troops. It sounds to me like a bit of both. But in any case, one thing is crystal clear: regardless of which forces they’re talking about, the military brass knows perfectly well they don’t have the troop strength to stabilize Iraq. In fact, they’re not even close.

There is no question that the overall blame for this situation belongs squarely with the civilian leadership: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their aides. Nonetheless, I would sure like to know the answer to that final question: has the military made it clear to Bush that they don’t have enough troops in Iraq to do the job? There are really only two options: (a) they have said this and Bush has been lying all along when he said the generals were getting everything they had asked for, or (b) they haven’t said this and they’ve been monumentally derelict in their duty. Which is it?

Via Rich Lowry, who posted this without comment.

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