Who wants to bet that Obama will claim victory after reading this news? Even tho the only way it was possible to claim victory is because President Bush rejected Obama’s recommendations a few years ago.
Iraq and the U.S. are near an agreement on all American combat troops leaving Iraq by October 2010, with the last soldiers out three years after that, two Iraqi officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. U.S. officials, however, insisted no dates had been agreed.
The proposed agreement calls for Americans to hand over parts of Baghdad’s Green Zone — where the U.S. Embassy is located — to the Iraqis by the end of 2008. It would also remove U.S. forces from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, according to the two senior officials, both close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and familiar with the negotiations.
The officials, who spoke separately on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing, said all U.S. combat troops would leave Iraq by October 2010, with the remaining support personnel gone “around 2013.” The schedule could be amended if both sides agree — a face-saving escape clause that would extend the presence of U.S. forces if security conditions warrant it.
Lots of caveats in the plan. Troops will be regulated to a support role in 2010 IF the Iraqi Army can shoulder the operational role on its own. All troops will be out of Iraq by 2013 IF the security conditions warrant it.
Basically it comes down to two plans. Obama’s earlier plan was bringing the troops home in defeat. Bush’s plan was bringing the troops home in victory.
Of course Obama has changed his plans after being proven wrong on the surge, but either way. One didn’t care if we ran and hid. The other wanted us home only after we won.
Allah makes some predictions:
Bush will, of course, emphasize that the time frame here is conditions-based (presumably with Obama’s approval), but expectations have a momentum all their own. Barring a severe deterioration in security, public pressure on the Iraqi government to enforce the timetable now that they’ve committed to it will be intense, if for no other reason than that Sadr is already making a stink about it and will demagogue it to gain leverage over them if they fail to follow through. Likely result: The IA will be pressed into a lead role before they’re ready and some of those “residual” U.S. troops will find themselves drafted back into a combat/peacekeeper role. That’s probably the most politically palatable solution for all sides, since it would maintain the all-important reduction in absolute numbers while allowing for a more vigorous presence below the radar than the timetable imagines.
Interesting prediction and one that I could definitely see coming if we do take out the combat troops before the Iraqi Army is ready. Austin Bay has a great interview with General Petraeus over at Pajamas Media and one of his questions deals directly with the huge gains made in Iraq and how those gains have made possible the reposturing of our forces:
MR. BAY: Well that that leads to my next question. It does strike me that we are in a moment of – strategic change. The military uses the term posturing reposturing–it’s a process but it’s a change from what coalition forces have been doing more of in the past to coalition forces doing less and Iraqi forces doing more.
In Iraq, are we at a time of strategic change?
GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, we’ve been at moments of strategic change. I don’t think — these are not light-switch moments, Austin, and what you have is more of a rheostat — many, many rheostat moments where, in small areas, local areas, districts and eventually provinces, there is an ongoing transition, and has been an ongoing transition, for the Iraqi forces to step more into the lead and for the Coalition forces to step back and to provide support and enablings. And this has been ongoing for some time.
In fact, there’s no way that we could have achieved, and by “we” I mean now the Iraqi and Coalition Forces together, that we could have achieved the security gains of the past year, eighteen months, but particularly since we began reducing the surge forces.
The fact is that we’re at the lowest level of security incidents, and have been now, for over two months, since March of 2004, despite the fact that we had drawn down our forces by the five army brigade combat teams of the surge and the two marine battalions and marine expeditionary units and a handful of smaller units as well.
And what has enabled that is the damage done to Al-Qaeda, Iraq and its extremist allies and to the militia and so-called special groups and the steady growth in not just number but capabilities of Iraqi forces.
And it’s very important to remember that the Iraqi surge continues, and their surge was many multiples of our surge. They’re at 140,000 additional soldiers and police since we began the surge back in early 2007, and continuing to grow, and, more importantly, growing in terms of professionalism, in terms of capability and so forth.
Again, I don’t want to overstate this at all. First of all, the enemy remains lethal, resilient and very dangerous, and we’ve seen instances of that in recent weeks. And Iraqi forces remain uneven in many respects. But, over time, that unevenness is, frankly, less so, and what you have is many more Iraqi units doing a credible job and many of them actually doing quite well.
In fact, our leaders assess that over 110 of Iraq’s army combat battalion, this is just the army now, but including their special operations forces, over 100 of those battalions are actually in the lead on the ground. And that’s quite a considerable change over the years.
Again, all that we and the Iraqis have accomplished over the last year and half would not have been possible if we had listened to Obama in Jan of 2007.
Thank god no one listened to him. Now we have to hope he is equally ignored on the ballot come November.