MAJOR ASSAULTS ON HOLD UNTIL AFTER U.S. VOTE [link]
Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.
By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.
Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi — where the insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest — until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.
"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."
What's worse? That they brazenly execute the War based on political priorities and get away with it, or that they just gave the insurgents a one-month "heads-up"?
Kerry's gotta stop wasting time explaining what his position was two and three years ago, and whether we should have gone into Iraq, etc., and steer the discussion to a searing indictment of the absolutlely incompetent job the President is doing in the War right now. I'm not saying Kerry's going in choosing the terms of the debate, but by not effectively changing the discussion, he's to blame. The only debate left is supposed to be "all domestic", so he may have missed his best opportunity to really confront the President and address this issue on a grand scale. It's the pitch he keeps whiffing on, and he should be belting it over the fence.