50,000 Troops in Iraq Until 2011, 0 in 2012?

Confusing piece in the Washington Post about President's Obama troop-withdrawal announcement. The headline is that the U.S. will be "leaving 35,000 to 50,000 [troops] in place until the end of 2011," but then later in the story, we see this:

"It will be structured in such a way . . . to allow us to address some of the fundamental issues as it relates to the health" of the overstretched U.S. military force, one official said, both in relation to Afghanistan, where Obama last week pledged to send an additional 17,000 troops, and "then ultimately as it relates to using this period . . . with a very hard end date" for Iraq. That date, Jan. 1, 2012, was set as the deadline for final withdrawal of all U.S. forces, in a status of forces agreement signed last year by former President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government.

The officials said the Obama administration regarded that date as "binding," although Bush, in seeking approval of the deal from Congress, insisted that was nonbinding on a future president. The officials rejected any possibility of a permanent peacetime U.S. force in Iraq such as those in Germany, Japan or South Korea.

So, 50,000 troops on Dec. 31, 2011, zero on Jan. 1, 2012? Sounds unlikely. Theories/insight welcome in the comments.

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  • kilroy||

    Depends on how you define "the end of 2011". If you consider it the last quarter it seems feasible you could remove 50k troops in 90 days.

  • ||

    The officials said the Obama administration regarded that date as "binding," although Bush, in seeking approval of the deal from Congress, insisted that was nonbinding on a future president.

    I've looked at the SOFA, and its an agreement with the US, not President Bush, so its as binding on Obama as it was on Bush.

    Since there was no possibility that Bush would be President when the deadline hit anyway, what Bush seems to have been saying is that the SOFA wasn't binding in any event, which certainly isn't the way it reads.

    Of course, "binding" in the context of international agreements is a, shall we say, flexible concept.

  • ||

    Considering that we've still got troops in Japan and Germany after 60-odd years, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the last GI to leave Iraq....

  • jtuf||

    Leaving the wisdom or foolishness of the Iraq War aside, I'm amazing at the unique logic many people apply only to the military. Protesters hold signs that say "books not bombs" to indicate that money spent on the military is money diverted from other programs, but you never hear someone say "books not parks" or "books not medicare". It is as if military spending is the only line in the budget with opportunity costs. Then there's the idea that we should pull troops out, because our military is overstretched. I agree that we are putting too much burden on too few personal, but hiring more military personal would also fix that problem. When someone complains about class size in schools, their solution is always hiring more teachers, not ending public education at age 16. Complaints about the high caseload of social workers bring calls for hiring more, not reducing the scope of their services. America has gone from a country that believed the military is one of the few justifiable items in the federal budget to a country that sees the military as the only budget item with an upper limit and opportunity costs.

  • ||

    comparing oranges and apples?

  • ||

    That date, Jan. 1, 2012, was set as the deadline for final withdrawal of all U.S. forces, in a status of forces agreement signed last year by former President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government.


    Assuming that this holds up and a representative democratic government with respect for basic human rights still exists in Mesopotamia on Jan 1, 2013, all of the red teamers that claimed the tree of freedom we've planted in Iraq will bear fruit, are cordially invited to say "J sub D, we were right and you were wrong, nyah, nyah nyah".

    I haven't been and won't be moving the goal posts. I still predict it won't happen.

  • jtuf||

    Martin Owens | February 27, 2009, 10:19am | #

    Considering that we've still got troops in Japan and Germany after 60-odd years, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the last GI to leave Iraq....



    Agreed.

  • Jesse Walker||

    books not medicare

    That would be a hilarious bumper sticker.

  • ||

    Since there was no possibility that Bush would be President when the deadline hit anyway, what Bush seems to have been saying is that the SOFA wasn't binding in any event, which certainly isn't the way it reads.



    Well, there's the sense in which any of them could be renegotiated.

    So, it appears that President Obama will be leaving troops in Iraq for exactly as long as President Bush said he was going to.

  • ||

    Any word on what is to become of the "embassy" we've been spending billions on?

  • ||

    So, it appears that President Obama will be leaving troops in Iraq for exactly as long as President Bush said he was going to.

    Which has been my beef all along with Obamabots everywhere who natter on about how Obama is going to get us out of Iraq. So far, his exit from Iraq is no more and no less than executing Bush's plan for getting out of Iraq.

    The disappearance of the SOFA from the White House website, and the concerted effort by pundits everywhere to pretend it doesn't exist, is pure partisan hagiography.

  • ||

    And the sure to be popular bumpersticker:

    No Blood for Prescription Price Relief

  • TallDave||

    Total withdrawal in 2012 on't happen. We have complex weapons systems (e.g. F-15 fighters) being delivered over the next few years that will require lots and lots of training.

    Remember, guys, the SOFA is amendable by the Iraqis at any time. It was basically a fig leaf for Maliki, so he could go back and (accurately) tell his people "See, we decide what the Americans do in our country."

    In any case, U.S. combat troops aren't doing much fighting anymore, relatively speaking. This is now pretty much a training/overwatch mission now. Welcome to victory, brought to you courtesy of David Petraeus.

    J Sub,

    Well, few believed we'd ever be where we are today. It could still unravel, but most of the players still relevant in Iraq (remember when Sadr was "the most powerful man in Iraq?" not anymore!) have a stake in the democratic government.

  • ||

    So basically Obama won't pull out from Iraq until he can maximize the reelection publicity from it. Until then his message to American troops is effectively: "die, you chumps".

    On another note, where can I get one of those books, not medicare bumper stickers? Or the t-shirt? Sign me up!

  • BDB||

    Wow, that's just what we need.

    An unstable Shiite-dominated government with F-15s. What could possibly go wrong?

  • ||

    So, 50,000 troops on Dec. 31, 2011, zero on Jan. 1, 2012? Sounds unlikely.

    You seem to be ignoring the possibility that our president is an idiot who makes clearly incompatible statements to different audiences. One day it will catch up with him, but it will be too late for our country I fear.

  • ||

    You seem to be ignoring the possibility that our president is an idiot who makes clearly incompatible statements to different audiences.



    While they do say to never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence, I'd like to point out that making incompatible statements to different audiences (or, better yet, vague self-contradictory statements that everyone can listen to and think that he really agrees with them) has worked out pretty well so far for President Obama.

  • ||

    I would agree Mr. Thacker. Keep in mind that his presidency is barely a month old; I have confidence the chickens come home to roost eventually.

  • FTFY||

    Remember, guys, the SOFA is amendable by the Iraqis at any time as close as I'll ever get to the wars I get massive stiffies over.



    Fixed.

  • ||

    Tulpa, yes, perhaps they will. Indeed, it's a common feature to all presidencies; until a particular issue arises, partisans and unaffiliated alike have a tendency to assume that that President really agrees with them. Then, say, immigration is actually discussed and the President can do nothing without upsetting some group.

    However, what I was trying to say is that merely because President Obama tries to be all things to all people does not mean that he's an idiot.

  • ||

    Sounds like the Bush-Obama Iraq withdrawal plan has Sen. McCain's support, along with that of most of the GOP.

    Representative John M. McHugh of New York, the ranking minority member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was reassured by Mr. Obama that he would revisit his plan if circumstances on the ground change.



    As I said before the election, Bush, Obama, and McCain all had the same stated policy on troop withdrawal from Iraq-- do it as soon as possible by the circumstances on the ground, but not before. (Obama sometimes made that qualifier, as in a floor speech in 2006, but then sometimes abandoned it, particularly during the primaries.)

    Of course, as I noted then, people certainly were free to believe that Bush and McCain didn't really mean it, and wanted to keep the troops there as long as possible, or that Obama really didn't mean the bit about circumstances on the ground, and would withdraw troops not matter what.

  • BDB||

    "Of course, as I noted then, people certainly were free to believe that Bush and McCain didn't really mean it, and wanted to keep the troops there as long as possible,"

    I was more worried about those two trying to start shit with Iran (or Russia). By last year every mainstream politician had the some position on Iraq.

  • ||

    Protesters hold signs that say "books not bombs" to indicate that money spent on the military is money diverted from other programs, but you never hear someone say "books not parks" or "books not medicare". It is as if military spending is the only line in the budget with opportunity costs

    It's not that defense spending is the only thing with opportunity costs, its just that the current amount of the spending is unnecessarily high. You could chop it in half right now and we wouldn't be any less safe or secure. It isn't the only thing with opportunity costs, it just has some of the highest opportunity costs, and at the level the defense budget is currently, it isn't much a value.

  • TallDave is an Idiot||

    "(remember when Sadr was "the most powerful man in Iraq?" not anymore!) "

    Now that Hakim's team lost most of its provinces and the Kurds are divided like never before since 2003, Maliki is re-tapping his former friendship with Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The two sides, which emerged victorious in last month's elections, are currently negotiating a coalition, as announced by the Sadrist bloc in Baghdad at the weekend, which would give them both firm control over Basra, Baghdad, Maysan, al-Wasit and Dhi Qar.



    Read something besides press releases from the military.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KB25Ak02.html

  • ||

    Books not Medicare....hmmm. Seems shy on alliteration. How about Books not Boneva?

  • ||

    P Brooks | February 27, 2009, 10:44am | #
    Any word on what is to become of the "embassy" we've been spending billions on?


    That is an ugly bitch. And the one that was Saddam's palace was so nice.

  • ||

    Crap! Books not Boniva. Nice spelling Kant!

  • ||

    I was more worried about those two trying to start shit with Iran (or Russia). By last year every mainstream politician had the some position on Iraq.



    That seemed even less likely to me than Obama passing an assault weapons ban seems to Brian Doherty. How many breathless articles does it take about "No, really GWB is about to invade Iran" until it starts to seem like crying wolf?

    It also seemed less likely than Obama starting a trade war with at least one of China, Brazil, Russia, or the rest of the world, or the chance of any president actually being able to cut farm subsidies.

    They had substantially the same position on Iraq and Afghanistan, except that Obama could pull a Kennedy-style "missile gap" claim about the need to surge in Afghanistan now.

  • BDB||

    McCain is a bit trigger-happy, JT. You can't deny that.

  • ||

    50,000 troops. Where is the "stop this illegal war" crowd now? I think everyone who portrayed McCain as a war monger for the 100 year statement. BO's plan in Iraq is no different than McCain's would have been. This shows that the entire Democratic potision on Iraq over the last five years has been nothing but a lie. I said going as far back as 2005, you can look up the threads, that the Dems taking power wouldn't make a dime's worth of difference in Iraq. Sure enough I have been proven right. Now the question is did all of the clowns who spend the last year ranting and raving about the illegal occupation of Iraq really mean it or was Iraq just another excuse to bitch about Republicans?

  • ||

    There will likely be a new SOFA authorizing the continued presence of US forces in a couple of years time.

  • ||

    Let's see, large numbers of Dems voted for the war to begin with. A Democratic Congress in 2007 and 2008 voted to continue funding of said war, including and escalation of the war known as the surge and now that the Dems control both branches of government they have pleged to continue combat operations for two more years and have a 50,000 troop presence there until 2012 and beyond. But it is Bush's war right? I wonder if any of the people who ran around calling those who supported the Iraq war "chicken hawks" are going to run out and join up now.

  • ||

    I suspect that a whole buncha "insurgents" are gonna materialize when it's down to 50,000 troops. I tend to think the Iraqis are just layin low for awhile.

  • ||

    McCain is a bit trigger-happy, JT. You can't deny that.



    McCain is a publicity and glory hound, one of the worst in the Senate. He continually gets exercised about the issues of day, and has an irritating self-righteous tendency to question the motives of those who oppose him, even as he often lacks a solid philosophical grounding for his positions. But he's flip-flopped on war as much as anyone. Remember Bosnia?

    But anyone who wagered that Mr. McCain would favor United States intervention in Bosnia's war would lose his shirt. As President Clinton and lawmakers ponder the prospect of air strikes to counter Serbian aggression or the despatch of thousands of American troops to enforce a cease-fire, Mr. McCain has been sounding the Senate's most persistent and most urgent alarms on the question of involvement in a European war.



    From 1993. Of course he changed his mind by 1996.

    But overall I can't say that our new President seems any less impulsive in his behavior so far, contrary to all the fawning press. (And Obama's ad and speech questioning McCain's patriotism for opposing "Buy American" was really horrible.) And for all McCain's supposed impulsiveness, I found him much more predictable than Obama.

  • ||

    "But overall I can't say that our new President seems any less impulsive in his behavior so far, contrary to all the fawning press. (And Obama's ad and speech questioning McCain's patriotism for opposing "Buy American" was really horrible.) And for all McCain's supposed impulsiveness, I found him much more predictable than Obama."

    that is exactly right. But you have to understand that BDB clings to the "but McCain would have started a war with China" idea like a tailsman to deal with his guilt over thinking that Obama might actually make a better President than McCain. Hopefully, BDB will continue to have it and that Obama doesn't blunder into a real war. That sadly with is escalation of the war in Afghanistan and now increasingly Pakistan, his naivity, and foolishness on trade, is a real possibility.

  • BDB||

    JT, McCain was very skeptical about US interventionism until after 9/11.

  • BDB||

    Iran, not China. Nobody in their right mind is going to start a war with China given our economic relationship.

  • BDB||

    "That sadly with is escalation of the war in Afghanistan and now increasingly Pakistan, his naivity, and foolishness on trade, is a real possibility."

    How would McCain have been any different, re: Afghanistan and Pakistan? He wouldn't have been. There was no anti-war candidate for Afghanistan.

  • ||

    "How would McCain have been any different, re: Afghanistan and Pakistan? He wouldn't have been. There was no anti-war candidate for Afghanistan."

    First, if that is correct, that still undercuts any reason to have voted for Obama since he would at best been no better than McCAin.

    Second, McCain never argued for a surge of troops into Afghanistan. The surge of troops is BO's idea and he did it to blunt criticism of him being so wrong about the surge in Iraq. Moreover, the Dems in congress would have objected to a McCain surge instead of just rolling over.

    No McCain didn't say we would get out. But he never said we would escalate the war either. That is the difference. Obama is escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan and risking a wider war. Go find me where McCain said he would do that?

  • BDB||

    "No McCain didn't say we would get out. But he never said we would escalate the war either."

    I believe he too wanted more troops to Afghanistan.

  • BDB||

    BTW, it will be hysterically funny if the GOP becomes anti-Afghanistan war. Then my theory that partisans only oppose the wars of Presidents who have a different letter by their name than their own will be proven correct.

  • g4m3th30ry||

    I think McCain argued for more troops in Afghanistan as well.

  • The Wine Commonsewer (you can ||

    Wait! How can there still be troops in Iraq? Pelosi promised us all that if we just voted her party into office she'd end the war.

    Now we have to wait until 2011? And it turns out that GWB actually ended the war in Iraq before he left office?

    [slaps head in disbelief]

  • g4m3th30ry||

    Out with the old, in with the... same?

    Even Gitmo - we're closing it, but we're not against indefinite detention of enemy combatants.

    What's the difference if the indefinite detention is Gitmo or Leavenworth?

    I wonder how mad those that voted for this guy are. It's only been a few weeks and everything that's been done or said about the war is pretty much a continuation of the Bush policies...

  • ||

    "BTW, it will be hysterically funny if the GOP becomes anti-Afghanistan war. Then my theory that partisans only oppose the wars of Presidents who have a different letter by their name than their own will be proven correct."

    Who said I don't suppor the war in AFghanistan? I have been very consistent in my support of the war. I also have been consistent in my view that Afghanistan is not Iraq and that large numbers of troops are not going to have the same effect there as they did in Iraq.

    I am only laughing at people like you that spent the whole fall slandering McCain as a war monger and convincing yourself that BO was some kind of peace candidate. Face it, BO lied to you and you bought it. Just admit it and move on.

  • ||

    BDB,

    You painted me and everyone who supported McCain in the fall as war mongers. Fuck you. It wasn't true then and it is not true now. BO lied out his ass about Afghanistan and Iraq and is in fact more aggressive and likly to get us into a war than McCain was. You were played for a sucker.

  • ||

    What's the difference if the indefinite detention is Gitmo or Leavenworth?



    Well, Ft. Leavenworth is probably harsher than Gitmo. NB: Ft. Leavenworth, the military maximum security prison, is different from the federal pen Leavenworth, also located in Leavenworth, Kansas.

    Though ADX Florence in Colorado is even worse. Supermax, ugh.

  • ||

    For some reason, the vast majority of Americans - both those in uniform and those on civvy street - seem to think that it is up to us how many will stay and how many will go. After the success of Charge of the Knights, Lion's Roar and the Sadr City operations, the Maliki government is confident in its ability to master the situation (both internally and externally). Maliki now decides - not Odierno or Petreaus or Obama.

    I will bet any one person on this blog one six pack of a mutually agreed upon beer that the Iraqi government will insist that all US personnel unass their AO NLT 31DEC11.

    The only exceptions - if there are any - will be the Marines at the embassy, some technical personnel and some green beanies and assorted spooks in mufti.

    Payment by check to your address in the very unlikely event that I lose.

    My decision on whose bet I take.

    I am a US soldier. I'm good for it.

  • TallDave||

    FTFY,
    Read something besides press releases from the military.

    Did you even read the article you cited?

    In 2007 the alliance snapped when Muqtada walked out, objecting to Maliki's refusal to call for a timetable for US troop withdrawal. Maliki saw this as a blessing in disguise, since Muqtada's outrageous activities had become an embarrassment to the prime minister, especially before neighboring Arab states after the execution of Saddam. He accepted the resignations immediately, cracking down on the Sadrists and turning instead to foster a new alliance with the Kurds.

    That was followed by Maliki crushing the Sadrists' forces all over southern Iraq.

    Do you know how many seats the Sadrists won the in the recent election?

    You might try reading something not published by an editor in a Baathist police state.

    Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

  • TallDave||

    FTFY,

    Yep, about as close as you'll eve get to the oppressive police states you sing lullabies to.

  • TallDave||

    Forward Magazine is edited by Syrian historian and writer Sami Moubayed, an author of books, who reports on Syrian affairs with regular contributions to Asia Times, Gulf News, and PostGlobal. In July 2008, he was part of the unofficial Syrian delegation to the United States whose request to meet officials at the State Department was turned down.[9] Together with the other two members of the group, Moubayed was described as a "regime-sanctioned mouthpiece."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_Magazine

    Oh, goody.

    I guess you could have quoted Kim Jong Il, but other than that it's hard to see how much stupider you could have been there.

  • TallDave||

    You painted me and everyone who supported McCain in the fall as war mongers.

    It's worse than that. They said we couldn't win in Iraq and the best thing we could do was abandon that country to the civil war between extremists.

    Remember that when these people talk. Instead of an emerging liberal democracy, there would be millions of dead Iraqis and an Al Qaeda mini-state if they had had their way in 2006.

  • TallDave||

    Baghdad 2009:

    BAGHDAD - The American soldier stepped out of the Baghdad nightclub. In one hand, he clutched his weapon. In the other, a green can of Tuborg beer. He took a sip and walked over to two comrades, dressed as he was in camouflage and combat gear.
    ...
    Twenty minutes later, several drunk men coaxed an American soldier to dance. He awkwardly shuffled his feet, wearing night-vision equipment and a radio, joining the women and boisterous young men in an Arabic chain dance around tables covered with empty beer bottles.
    ...
    Others at the club said the soldiers had been there more than once. "I love the Americans," said Amal Saad, a petite young woman with blue contact lenses and thick red lipstick. "I like it when they come here. I feel so safe."



    Not exactly a Pentagon press release, as this is technically a violation of the rules.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29439989/

  • G-Less||

    TallDave | February 27, 2009, 11:04am | #

    Total withdrawal in 2012 won't happen. We have complex weapons systems (e.g. F-15 fighters) being delivered over the next few years that will require lots and lots of training.


    Sigh.

    F22 is what you may mean Dave. Our F15 force is not due for any massive reinvestment.

    What is it with you and your retardedness about anything military? You seem to care so much but actually know nothing. You deride others as being obtuse, but demonstrate the same constantly.

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