Cameron University expert weighs in on Petraeus assessment

Dr. Lance Janda-Cameron University
Dr. Lance Janda-Cameron University

President Bush's top Generals assessment of the Iraq war presented his evaluation and recommendations earlier this week and Thursday night, the Commander in Chief will address the issue, too.  He's expected to offer new guidelines and conditions for pulling back some U.S. forces in Iraq at the beginning of summer 2008.

7News took the question as to whether or not this was simply a political move or if it would have any impact on the continuing violence in Iraq to a Political and Foreign Affairs expert at Cameron University in Lawton.

Dr. Lance Janda says nothing he or the rest of the nation heard from General Petraeus should have been a surprise.  He says choosing sides depends on the interpretation of the military's facts and statistics about Iraq.

After two days in the hot seat on Capitol Hill, General David Petraeus used the day to defend his pro-troop surge argument to the media.  Even though he says he's frustrated that it hasn't been more successful.  "I don't think any of us wanted to be where we are right now, given where we were at other points along the way, when we thought the trajectory was moving along reasonably positively," Petraeus said.

In the world of politics, Dr. Janda says it's just one more piece of coal for Democrats to throw on the fire even though, he says, the troop surge is not a very strong argument for either political party.  "My concern is that in the long run this really doesn't change anything.  If you shove 30,000 more troops into Iraq, you should see the level of violence decline; there's no question in that sense that the surge has been effective," said Janda.

But, Janda's looking further down the road at the real possibilities for Iraq's future - surge or no surge.  "At some point regardless of how effective it is, we're going to start pulling back and the Iraqis are going to have to take over for themselves and what happens then is what determines if the invasion, occupation, and intervention were successful or whether it was all a gigantic waste of time, blood, and money," said Janda.

Ultimately, Janda believes the war is a burden that will be handed off to the next president and congress.  But, that doesn't mean they'll have any success either.  "If you're a democrat, and you think things are going to go bad in Iraq, regardless of who's President, there may be part of you who wants a Republican to win next year so your party doesn't get blamed," he said.  So it's extremely political for everyone involved."

Thursday night, the President is expected to recommend pulling back about $30,000 soldiers by August 2008.  Even then, it will only bring troop numbers back down to where they were before the surge began in January.  The Senate's top Democratic leader is already calling the President's expected plan unacceptable.  Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada says his party will offer amendments next week to change the course of the war.