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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Available On The Bellwether: Full Text Of Petraeus Letter To Troops On War Progress

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Army Gen. David E. Petraeus has written a two-page letter (PDF) to the troops in Iraq that is a tip-off to what he'll tell Congress when he formally reports next week. He says sectarian violence is "at considerably reduced levels from 8 months ago . . ."

Read the letter and decide for for yourself. But it seems clear Petraeus is going to testify the surge -- and other tactical changes --have finally produced a glimmer of positive results. Could that pose a problem for President Bush if Petraeus is correct and people start asking: Why were things bungled for so long? Where was the leadership in 2004, 2005, 2006? Why were we told things were going well when they obviously were not? Would the war and dying be over if the White House had recognized sooner the Pentagon and Central Command needed competent leaders? Petraeus stopped far short of telling his troops victory is just around the corner, nor did he say he saw a light at the end of the tunnel, the discredited Vietnam metaphor. Instead, he used a football analogy.

"We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball and we are driving down the field."

He added:

"We have to contend with the relentless pace of operations, the crushing heat, and the emotions that we all experience during long deployments and tough combat. And we operate against a backdrop of limited Iraqi governmental capacity, institutions trying to rebuild, and various forms of corruption."

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