(Is this a surprise and how reasonable is it?) I'm disappointed but not surprised because I was hoping for a faster case of withdrawal. (How will this affect troop morale?) It's a strain on the army the marine corps and the surge was an extraordinary strain. Now that no relief is in sight, it means the army in particular will have long deployment times. Families are affected and that's where you're going to the see the impact on retention. (For Iraqis themselves, if one gives Iraqis a timeline for American withdrawal, does it help or hinder progress in Iraq?) That's the crux of the debate in Iraq. It's obvious President and General Petreaus think that withdrawing the forces would put extraordinary pressure on the Iraqis. My view is that working with the Iraqis and coming up with a deliberate withdrawal timeline is to everyone's benefit. The difficulties we face in Afghanistan also require an adjustment of our priorities. (How about in terms of politicians in this country and the presidential race?) Secretary Gates's announcement is going to draw a more distinct party line. McCain has been a suproter of the surge and would probably support Gates's announcement. Clinton and Obama have both called for faster withdrawal and so I would see come the fall this debate over the Iraq policy will be as sharp as ever.

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