All Troops Out By 2011? Not So Fast; Why Obama's Iraq Speech Deserves a Second Look
Some anti-war analysts find hope in President Barack Obama's address at
"I intend to remove all
Obama's plan, as his advisors have often said, is subject to "conditions on the ground," meaning it can be altered at any point between now and 2011. Underscoring this point, a spokesperson for New York Rep. John McHugh, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said on Friday that Obama "assured [McHugh] he will revisit the tempo of the withdrawal, or he will revisit the withdrawal plan if the situation on the ground dictates it. … The president assured him that there was a Plan B."
Despite Obama's declarations Friday and the celebrations they have sparked on the liberal blogosphere, the Pentagon certainly seems to believe its forces may well be in
Some have suggested that such statements from the military are insubordination and contrary to Obama's orders, but they could also reflect discussions between the White House and the Pentagon to which the public is not privy.
Then there's the monstrous
Whether this job is performed by State Department Diplomatic Security or mercenaries from the company formerly known as Blackwater (or else a corporation more acceptable to the Obama administration), the
Finally, the Status of Forces Agreement, which supposedly lays out a timetable for
The Democrats' Response
Earlier in the week, when details of Obama's official
"When they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I anticipated," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was "particularly upset" according to the New York Times and did not understand "the justification." Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., exclaimed, "Fifty thousand is more than I would have thought."
The response from the Democratic power brokers was embarrassingly disingenuous. Obama said early on in his presidential campaign that he intended to keep behind a "residual force" of the scope he laid out. Those who have long protested this aspect of his plan were marginalized and ignored in both the corporate media and the Obama campaign.
The same Democratic leaders expressing their disappointment ignored the credible voices of dissent for years while supporting the occupation through votes and funding. That they would wait to express their dissent until long after it would actually have had an impact is one of the best examples of what has been so wrong with the Democrats' role from the beginning of President George W. Bush's declaration of war against the world and his 2003 invasion of
If Pelosi, Reid, et al., really had a problem with a 50,000 troop residual force, they certainly had ample time to say so when Obama was running for president.
On Friday, however, these same Democrats welcomed the announcement that combat missions would be out by 2011. Reid praised Obama's plan, while cautioning that we "must keep in
"It is encouraging to see the Obama administration embrace the plan of Gen. David Petraeus that began with the successful surge in 2007, and continues shifting combat responsibilities to our Iraqi allies," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Adopting the Bush Narrative
Beyond the headline-generating news, Obama's speech at
"I want to be very clear," Obama told the military audience. "We sent our troops to
"We kept our troops in
As much as could be said about this, perhaps the best response was delivered on Friday by Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks, who knows the situation in
"We won't know for 10 or 15 years whether we actually did something right, even in removing Saddam Hussein," he said on MSNBC. "We may very well end up with a strongman, stronger than Saddam, closer to
Regardless of what happens down the line, the world knows the truth about the lies that both Democrats and Republicans promoted in support of Bush's war against
Obama, the candidate, used to riff on these truths on the campaign trail. The contradiction between President Obama's speech at
Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from