debkafile: Two new steps taken by President Bush support the revised Iraq strategy under development in the White House
The US president has decided to shift John Negroponte out of the job of National Intelligence Director after 20 months and appoint him deputy secretary of state, as weighty backup for Condoleezza Rice. The USS John C. Stennis strike group will this month join the USS Dwight Eisenhower aircraft carrier group and USS Boxer strike force in the Persian Gulf “as a warning to Syria and Iran” in face of acts seen as provocative, and to give commanders more flexibility in the region. Continuation of Iran’s banned nuclear activities would come under the heading of “provocative.”
This is the second buildup of US naval, air and marine strength in the strategic waterway in four months. Deployment of the Stennis group puts a total of 16,000 US sailors in the region as well as another nuclear carrier and 7 escort warships, 10 air squadrons, 2 submarines and helicopters to support amphibious landings on enemy soil.
debkafile‘s military experts see in the new deployment evidence that President George W. Bush has rejected the key Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group’s recommendation to engage Iran and Syria for an exit strategy on Iraq. He has instead come down finally behind his own fundamental conviction that the Iraq war is winnable and Iran can be simultaneously confronted.
Tuesday, Jan. 2, The New York Times reported that the commander of US forces in Iraq Gen. John Casey was on his way out, accused of placing a policy of withdrawal ahead of winning the war. This grave charge is tantamount to flouting the commander in chief’s directives. Reports of Casey’s coming dismissal are further evidence of Bush’s resolve to pursue a proactive policy on Iraq and Iran rather than accept defeat.