Rumsfeld travelled to Iraq yesterday to kick the Iraqi National Congress into action. A Constitutional agreement between divisive ethnic groups, due in about 3 weeks, is still very much an uncertainty. Bush, fearful that a delay will prompt six more months of terrorist bombings targeting the Congress, ramped up US pressure by sending in professional ass kicker Zalmay Khalilzad. To make the point the US isn't kidding, Bush sent Rumsfeld to firmly establish US expectations and timeframes. Good and good.
Why in God's name did Rumsfeld have to say, "Substantial Troop Withdrawl by Spring." Is that supposed to put pressure on the Iraqi Congress, or is that just another teaser arrogantly thrown to the US public? The past several months have been littered with reports by Generals, Statesmen and Analyists saying this mess could last another 6 years, not 6 months. There aren't enough troops in Iraq, and those in Iraq suffer sagging morale. Draft-talk, sparked by critical recruitment shortfalls, is no longer just an unsubstantiated fear of the lefty fringe.
"All is well, folks. Nothing to see here. Troop withdrawl by spring, folks. Keep moving," sez Rumsfeld.
In 2000, hundreds of wacko cult leaders proclaimed the End of the World was at hand. They're followers spent New Year's Eve 2000 looking for an appearance of God, a UFO or Elvis Presley. When New Years passed without incident, much soul searching ensued. Expectations had been raised, and dropped. Even people psychotic enough to be suckered into a cult know when they've been had. I would even argue that after a few lying Messiahs get them down, they start to recognize the farce in advance.
Substantial Troop Withdrawl by Spring 2006? End of Substantial Operations, 2004? Mission Accomplished, 2002?
The End is Nigh