Put a big, red circle around September on your calendar, reports The Washington Post, because that’s President Bush’s deadline to show substantial progress in Iraq.
Now, you’ve heard this before — possibly as many as half a dozen times, depending on which pundit you trust to set crucial deadlines for the Iraq War. But, the Post wants you to know, the stars really are in alignment this time around:
— Gen. David H. Petraeus has said that by September “he will have a handle on whether the current troop increase is having any impact on political reconciliation between Iraq’s warring factions.”
— “September is also the last month of the fiscal year in Washington. Without tangible signs of progress, Congress is likely to demand tougher conditions on war funding for fiscal 2008.”
So if, as one would expect, Petraeus comes back from Iraq with declarations of military progress, but the political situation remains in a state of apparently hopeless deadlock, Congress will put its foot down. At least that’s what a number of key Republicans are promising:
— House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-OH): “By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn’t, what’s Plan B.”
— Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN): “There is a sense that by September, you’ve got to see real action on the part of Iraqis…. I think everybody knows that, I really do.”
With Republican support, Democrats promise to push harder with funding restrictions on the war come September. Until then, they’ll watch how things are going with the rest of us.
Note: Stay tuned to Election Central for updates on the fight between the president and Congress over funding the war.