April 10, 2008

That's Some Catch

There was only one Catch and it was Catch-22, which stipulated that if things were okay in Iraq, then we couldn't withdraw our troops because if we did things wouldn't be okay and we would need them; and if things weren't okay, we couldn't withdraw our troops because we would need them until things were okay, at which point we couldn't withdraw them because if we did things wouldn't be okay and we would need them.

Senator Carl Levin whistled in appreciation. "That's some catch, that Catch-22."

"It's the best there is," agreed Doc Petraeus.

Our troops were there and so things were okay and we didn't need them anymore; but if we withdrew them, things wouldn't be okay, so we couldn't leave because we would need them.

"I'm still trying to understand this," said Levin.

"Take your time," said Doc Petraeus. "It's confusing for everybody at first."

"Let me ask this," said Levin. "Aren't we wearing out our troops?"

"Yes indeed," said Petraeus. "That's why we're shortening tours of duty."

"For the troops in the field?" asked Levin.

"No," said Petraeus. "Not for the troops who are there. Only for the ones who are not there."

"We're shortening tours of duty for troops who are not in Iraq?"

"Yes," grinned Doc Petraeus. "Exactly. Those troops who arrive in August will only serve one year."

"What does that do for the troops who are already there?"

"Nothing," said Petraeus amiably, "but it does everything for President Bush, because his tour of duty ends on January 20, 2009."

"So that means..."Levin began.

"That no one will really be able to leave while Bush is still President. Right, exactly. But it looks like troops will be leaving sooner while he's in office even though they aren't."

"That's why you chose August," said Levin.

"Right, Senator."

"Even though that does nothing for the troops who are already worn out," said Levin dourly.

"The idea was never to help the troops who were already worn out," said Doc Petraeus. "It was to help the troops who aren't worn out."

"Not that anyone can really leave anyway because of Catch-22," said Levin.

"Bingo," said Doc Petraeus.

"Is there any way around Catch-22?" said Levin.

"I think we've plugged most of the holes," said Petraeus. "We don't think it can be beat."

Levin slumped in his chair. "How did we get to such a crazy impasse?" he asked quietly.

"I don't make the Catches," said Petraeus, with a big smile. "I just enforce them."

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