Iraq more insistent on a withdrawal date

BAGHDAD, Nov. 6 - Two days after the election of Barack Obama, Iraq’s chief spokesman said with unusual forcefulness Thursday that his government will continue to insist on a firm withdrawal date for U.S. troops, despite American demands that any pullout be subject to prevailing security conditions.

Who thinks an agreement will be signed before Bush leaves office? This would seem like a win for both Bush and Obama*. It would look good for Bush as far as his legacy, if he doesn’t do it then Obama would get all the credit if an agreement is signed after he takes office. But even if Bush signs it, Obama would get some credit, just like Reagan and the hostages in Iran.

In any case, there does seem to be realistic hope of ending this war.

*oh and the country too

Bush won’t sign it regardless. No chance IMHO. He’ll leave it for Obama. And frankly I’ll be surprised if Obama breaks any speed records signing it either, once he takes office.

Guess we’ll see.


Specifically why wouldn’t he sign it? Because he thinks it’s too early to withdraw, or just to leave the headache to Obama?

Let me try to “think” like Bush - If I sign it and things go wrong later, I’ll get blamed. And if things go well, people will say the only reason we came to an agreement in the first place was because Obama was coming in.

The former. Neither we nor the Iraqi’s are really ready for us to withdraw at this point. In fact, they aren’t ASKING us to withdraw…only set a date. Bush has been against setting a firm date all along…and no way he is going to do so now. As I said, I doubt Obama will do so either, at least not as soon as he takes office. Obama was talking about something like a 16 month time frame IIRC…and even that wasn’t set in stone, at least not the last time I heard it mentioned.

The thing is that withdraw at this point is inevitable…but the manner we do it is delicate. Also, the Iraqi government (or the people) aren’t exactly standing shoulder to shoulder on this issue…much of the push for US withdrawal is politically driven for internal issues. It’s a bit more complex then just having the president wave his hand and having the troops start to board planes.


I’m almost finished with Rick Perlstein’s tome-length period political history of the late '60s and early '70s, Nixonland. He notes that President Thieu of South Vietnam very much did not want the U.S. troops to leave, because they were the only thing propping up his regime, and if it fell that might mean his death. (It didn’t – he got out and lived to 2001; but it was a rational fear.)

The current Iraqi leaders know very well that if civil war comes (or, rather, that if the civil war that has been going on for four years escalates) they might go to the wall. They don’t care. They want the foreign troops out of their country badly enough that they’re willing to accept the risk.

I’m only about 5 chapters into that book. Very good. But slow going, for the past 10 years I’ve hardly read anything. Trying to get my brain started again.

Back OT, my original question was not about withdrawing now, but signing an agreement for at least a general timetable. The article I linked to talked about 2011 as the final date. And I did wonder if the Iraqis wanted us out because they really think they can police the country, or just because they are tired of us.

And Bush isn’t going to sign such a document before he goes. Even if he did (which he won’t) it would be a meaningless gesture, as it is going to be up to Obama to set policy on this topic form here on out.


16 months sounds great to me but it’s not going happen, right? But 2011, wellllll…maybe.

Depends on when the 16 months starts. My guess is that Obama is going to want to put his own mind and team on this before making a final decision…which will probably take several months. I’d say 2011 is a reasonable projection of when we’ll be partly or mostly out of there. I doubt we’ll be fully out of there by then though.