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Webb Ice-Grills Petraeus

Now, the Democrats’ big dog: Jim Webb, the streetfighting Marine from Virginia. He started out by casually remarking that his son was in Anbar in 2006 for the birth of the Sunni shift away from Al Qaeda. Subtle message: Don’t you dare say it was the result of the surge.

Webb’s concerned about overstretch and the strain of the war’s required deployments on military readiness. He was incredulous: there’ll be 10,000 more troops in Iraq after the surge than there were there before? Quickly he moved to the wages of decreased readiness, noting that Al Qaeda continues to rebuild itself in Pakistan, implying that we won’t be able to meet needed challenges there. “The concern I have with keeping that level force in iraq, looking at these other situations, particularly Afghanistan… I’m curious at the level of agreement in [your] plan [comes from] the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?”

Petraeus didn’t want to touch that. All he said was that Admiral Fallon, the former head of Central Command, and Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were “fully informed.” Webb and Petraeus gave each other what looked to me like thousand-yard stares. Webb promised that next week he’d ask Mullen that question.

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