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Major troop draw-down planned for Iraq

Iraq and the United States are currently negotiating the terms of troop reductions next year which could leave as few as 50,000 active-duty American military in the country by the time President Bush leaves office. Nicholas Wapshott reports for the New York Sun:


With the eyes of the world focused on the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md., President Bush's war tsar, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, quietly announced that the American and Iraqi governments will start talks early next year to bring about an end to the allied occupation by the close of Mr. Bush's presidency.

The negotiations will bring to a formal conclusion the U.N. Chapter 7 Security Council involvement in the occupation and administration of Iraq, and are expected to reduce the number of American troops to about 50,000 troops permanently stationed there but largely confined to barracks, from the current 164,000 forces on active duty.

"The basic message here should be clear. Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own. That's very good news. But it won't have to stand alone," General Lute yesterday told reporters in the White House.


Read the rest at the link provided. If indeed such a massive withdrawal is possible next year, it would tend to remove Iraq as an issue in the general election, although Republican candidates may be able to claim their fortitude in supporting the "surge" has provided the environment in which victory and honorable departure is possible. Both Democratic frontrunners, Clinton and Obama, refused to cave in to demands from the antiwar left to force immediate withdrawal, so they won't look as foolish as the rest of the field or the Democratic leadership in Congress.

Unless, of course, we move them out of Iraq and into Iran, in which case there will still be some naysayers . . .

Thanks to Ed Morrissey for pointing out this story.


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Comments (6)

I'm no so sure the story is... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I'm no so sure the story is what it seems.

The 50,000 troops are permanent which means there could be more non-permanent troops present.

The other thought I had is that if the intention is to draw down to that number, it seems overly optimistic. It would be a crime to jeopardize the current progress for a politically expedient early withdrawal.

Then again its probably better for appearances that we leave under the banner of foolish optimism than have the Democrats elected and have them withdrawn under a banner of defeat.

Overall though I'm terrified of the parting gifts of Bush. One example is his last minute position shift on global warming. And despite the gathering public and scientific opposition to rash AGW decisions, he meets Al Gore, AGW huckster extraordinaire, for 45 minutes. I'm terrified he's looking for a few last minute actions to gain some kind of penance to reverse how much he is reviled by the Left & the World.

Except for immigration, I a... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Except for immigration, I am for GW. Why would he not meet with Algore and talk, all probability about the politics of global warming. If the last five months have demonstrated great success in Iraq and maybe even the defeat of Al Queda in Iraq, why not plan to draw down the troops? I think some of us are programmed to just read bad news. ww

Golly Gee Whiz, what will t... (Below threshold)
Pretzel_Logic:

Golly Gee Whiz, what will the unelectable Democrat candidates run on now??

Except for immigra... (Below threshold)
jpm100:
Except for immigration, I am for GW. Why would he not meet with Algore and talk, all probability about the politics of global warming. If the last five months have demonstrated great success in Iraq and maybe even the defeat of Al Queda in Iraq, why not plan to draw down the troops? I think some of us are programmed to just read bad news. ww
I think Bush did the right thing with Iraq. I don't really trust his compentancy executing it though. There's no reason the surge shouldn't have been executed 1 year or possibly even 2 years earlier. He gets points for eventually doing it and putting the right person(s) in charge now.

And the Surge didn't just change numbers, but other things including the rules of engagement. I don't remember a big fight in congress forcing Bush to have those original rules of engagement there.

But there's no reason the surge couldn't have been started sooner other than bullheadedness or it would have looked like an admission of failure if done prior to the '06 elections. Remember Bush did can Rumsfeld almost the week (day?) after the election. So election politics did affect the Iraq War with Bush imho.

You can blame Rumsfeld, but who put/kept Rumsfeld in that position?

There's no reason the su... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

There's no reason the surge shouldn't have been executed 1 year or possibly even 2 years earlier.

I gotta disagree with you on that.
We need the Iraqis on board, not just "some", or "most" but nearly all.

Nearly all Iraqis are sick and tired of living in a killing ground. They're sick of having their children get blown up for having the temerity to take candy from Marines. They're sick of being blown up by their co-religionists at their mosques.

Before, they were hiding "their own" jihadis. Now? Not so much. They're killing the terrorists in their midst, turning them in and driving them out.

So I don't think that the "Surge" would have worked if we had done it too soon.

There's no reason the su... (Below threshold)
mantis:

There's no reason the surge shouldn't have been executed 1 year or possibly even 2 years earlier.

The surge was largely in response to the massive increase in violence that started in early 2006 and continued until recently (see Gen. Patraeus' presentation, slide #3). The idea was to get violence back down to 2005 levels so that the political process could move forward. Of course, the Iraqis not done that, but that was the idea.

If the Iraqis don't get their shit together soon, as troops really start moving out early next year (which has already begun on a small scale) you can expect violence levels to increase again. And our forces could not handle another surge (or an invasion of Iran, but that was a joke, right?). Due to the good progress that's been made against AQI, however, an increase in violence would probably not reach levels it did in 2006.




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