Last week we were thick with mainstream media reportage detailing the dire warnings emanating from straight-shooting, Retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who had just returned from a week in Iraq and Kuwait. On a mission to conduct a "strategic and operational assessment of security operations," by his own account, McCaffrey visited "combat units in the field as well as senior U.S., coalition and Iraqi officials."

Remember this
Washington Post headline:

"McCaffrey Paints Gloomy Picture of Iraq: In Contrast to His Previous Views, Retired General Writes of Strategic Peril .

"An influential retired Army general released a dire assessment of the situation in Iraq, based on a recent round of meetings there with Gen. David H. Petraeus...."

(Read the entire Post article here)

Today, the retired general speaks for himself in an op-ed piece for the
LA Times (full article here).

The highlights:

"[W]e have little choice as Americans except to give our new military commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and our new ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, the political and military support they need during the next 12 months. Failure in Iraq at this point could generate a regional war among Iraq's neighbors that would imperil U.S. interests for a decade or more."

"I know that the problems we face are grim indeed, but Petraeus' strategy is sound, and the situation is not hopeless."

"The threat we face is huge."

By the way, there is still plenty of gloom in his assessment:

"100,000 armed militia," some "foreign fighters," "a couple of thousand Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq extremists [intent on provoking] sectarian violence through murderous attacks on the innocent civilian Shiite population and their mosques."

[Many of] "Iraq's neighbors...have intensified the civil war as an extension of their own larger [regional goals]."

"Iran has provided the Shiites with leadership from the elite Quds Force of its Revolutionary Guard and with highly lethal EFP (explosively formed projectile) bombs, which are a major cause of U.S. casualties.

"The Syrians have provided sanctuary to Saddam Hussein Baathists.

"The Syrians also have ignored or aided the passage of 40 to 70 jihadists a month into Iraq. (Most of them are suicide bombers who are dead within two weeks.)

"The Turks also have made threatening military and political moves to confront the prosperous Iraqi Kurdish regions at their border.

"This is a dangerous neighborhood.

In McCaffrey's words: "What is the basis for hope?

"U.S. troops continue to show determination, discipline and courage."

Iraqi police and army are coming on line in large numbers.

"The Maliki government has finally gotten its nerve and allowed joint operations by its police and U.S. special operations forces to arrest Sadr militia members in Baghdad.

"Petraeus has placed more than 50 Iraqi/U.S. police and army strong points throughout the city. The murder rate has plummeted in response. The Sunni tribes in Anbar province have turned on the foreign fighters.

"We will know by the end of the summer if Petraeus' strategy is going to prompt an adequate political response from the Iraqis."

On the other hand?

"We are running out of time.

"The American people have walked away from support of this war. The Army is beginning to show signs of great strain."

"By the beginning of the coming year, we will be forced to downsize our deployment to Iraq or the Army will begin to unravel."

"The United States is now at a crossroads. We are in a position of strategic peril. We need to support the U.S. leadership team in Iraq for this one last effort to succeed."

Thank you, General. Well said. Now, let's see how much press this statement gets in the mainstream media.