Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

J. Wing claims Iraq is not getting more violent, but J. Mattis sounds not so sure

Here is the latest from Joel Wing. But General James Mattis, the head of Centcom, appeared last optimistic in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Asked by Sen. John McCain if al Qaeda is making a comeback in Iraq, Mattis said, "Yes, sir, notably in the western Iraq area. But the ...

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Here is the latest from Joel Wing.

But General James Mattis, the head of Centcom, appeared last optimistic in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Asked by Sen. John McCain if al Qaeda is making a comeback in Iraq, Mattis said, "Yes, sir, notably in the western Iraq area. But the threat is extending into Baghdad." Returning to the subject later in the hearing, he added, "It's not significant. It won't threaten the government. It'll kill a lot of innocent people."  

Mattis also sounded quite dovish on Iran. "…[T]he best we can do…is to delay them. Only the Iranian people can stop this program."

Here is the latest from Joel Wing.

But General James Mattis, the head of Centcom, appeared last optimistic in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Asked by Sen. John McCain if al Qaeda is making a comeback in Iraq, Mattis said, "Yes, sir, notably in the western Iraq area. But the threat is extending into Baghdad." Returning to the subject later in the hearing, he added, "It’s not significant. It won’t threaten the government. It’ll kill a lot of innocent people."  

Mattis also sounded quite dovish on Iran. "…[T]he best we can do…is to delay them. Only the Iranian people can stop this program."

I was also struck that General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in his own Senate testimony yesterday commented that Syria’s air defense system is "approximately five times" more sophisticated than those NATO aircraft faced in Libya.

Is that called burying the lede?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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