All According To Plan... Somewhat
Iyad Allawi's bloc in the Iraqi Parliament leaves the Maliki government, presumably under advice of his GOP lobbyist team. So confidence in Maliki withers, leading to perhaps a coup and a new Prime Minister, which would force the Bush Administration to stay in Iraq longer to give the new government more time and more breathing space, running out the clock until 2009...
What was that?
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.
Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond [...]
Pace's recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed private skepticism about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus, before publicly backing it.
According to administration and military officials, the Joint Chiefs believe it is of crucial strategic importance to reduce the size of the U.S. force in Iraq in order to bolster the military's ability to respond to other threats, a view that is shared by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
Darn generals, coming along and raining on Bush's war parade!
Of course, later in the article is the cynical view of what probably will happen:
Any discord among the top U.S. generals could be awkward for Bush, who professes to rely heavily on advice from military leaders. But there also is tremendous pressure for military officers to speak with one voice and defer to Petraeus and other field commanders. It remains possible that the Joint Chiefs may opt to weaken their stance before approaching Bush.
After all, a general who disagrees is a general out of a job, whereas a general who falls in line is a general whose advice is listened to. After all, Gen. Pace himself is leaving at the end of September.
See also Josh Marshall's post on Jim Hoagland's ope-ed, which makes the point that what's good for Bush (trying every single thing he can think of to reverse the course of Iraqi history and restore his legacy) and what's good for the country (not irreparably breaking our military) are two different things. Which is a position of incredible danger for the rest of us.