Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Iraq Troop Withdrawal Timetable

According to a statement released by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:
The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or a memorandum of understanding to put a timetable on their withdrawal. In all cases, the basis for any agreement will be respect for the full sovereignty of Iraq."
Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser said his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces. Is this a sign that the troops will be coming home sooner as opposed to later?

The Bush administration and the Pentagon have shared a goal, that I thought the Iraqis agreed with, that the U.S. forces would remain their until the Iraqi forces become a more self-reliant force. The administration has claimed that a withdrawal timetable would play into the hands of enemy forces who would lie low until U.S. troops were gone. The have also said that withdrawal decisions must be based on conditions on the ground.

What is causing this discussion? A U.N. mandate authorizing the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq expires Dec. 31. And the additional surge forces sent to Iraq in 2007 are due to pull out by the end of July, leaving about 140,000 U.S. troops, which is still a large number of troops and associated expenses.

President Bush and Pentagon officials have said repeatedly that we are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi people and its official government. If this invitation is rescinded, does that mean it is time to leave? According to the Bush policy, it does.

I have always taken the position that foreign wars are bad for the U.S.; that in most cases are not in our best interests. Granted, the world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone, but I am not sure the cost -- economics, lengthy tours and human lives -- was worth it.

So I see a problem brewing: the Iraqi government will ask for a withdrawal timetable and the Bush administration will push back. The Bush administration will claim we are leaving too soon, that Iraqi will quickly become a terrorist breeding ground and a threat to Middle East stability. If this Bush position continues, we will never leave Iraqi, because the elimination of Iraq as a terrorist breeding ground is unrealistic.

So let the politicking begin.

No comments: