Iraq drawdown “time horizons” agreed

posted at 6:10 pm on August 21, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

With the Iraqi Army increasingly taking charge of security operations, Washington and Baghdad have agreed on a proposal that would see combat troops leaving Iraq by 2011, three years from now, and to leave major urban centers by the summer of 2009.  Iraq’s National Assembly would have to agree to these terms, and while some may object to the lengthier time frame than widely discussed, the Iraqis want to see some firm end to American combat operations, and would likely embrace this framework:

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday both sides had made progress in finalizing the principles of a long-term security treaty, but any deal still faces significant challenges in winning approval in Baghdad.

U.S. and Iraqi negotiating teams have concluded their formal talks aimed at hammering out the details of a draft agreement. The proposed deal will set the conditions for a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq. (See related article.)

A draft agreement now circulating sets 2011 as a goal for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops, said Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Humood, who is the lead Iraqi negotiator, and other people familiar with the talks.

Another aspiration is to have U.S. troops leave population centers by June 30, 2009, and move to bases on the outskirts of those areas, these people said. Any agreement on a date would also allow for flexibility if security conditions suddenly worsen, these people said.

These time frames make a lot more sense now, with the security forces establishing order on their own, than they did two years ago when Democrats wanted an immediate retreat from Iraq.  The surge, which even Barack Obama now admits worked, gave the Maliki government enough time to press for political reconciliation while hitting hard at militias, insurgents, and al-Qaeda.  He had claimed as recently as four weeks ago that the surge didn’t help stabilize Iraq, a ridiculous notion on its face.

Now, however, with the Iraqi Army gaining its own strength and the wheels of democracy working in their normally messy but peaceful fashion, it’s appropriate to start looking at a long-term strategy of drawdown.  The Iraqis want to govern themselves, an opportunity afforded them by American troops and American stamina, but at some point American troops will get in the way.  If the Iraqi government wants a long-term presence of American military for support, then we can enter into such a partnership along the same lines as the relationships we have with Germany and South Korea.  That will eventually be their choice, and that time is coming sooner rather than later.

The drawdown will take several years, and for good reason.  Iraq has very little air power at the moment, and could not possibly defend its borders against its neighbors if necessary because of that.  They have limited capabilities in air power even for internal security issues and must rely on the American forces for assistance.  Their Navy is in even worse shape, although our assistance in that area doesn’t require a large footprint within Iraq.   We’re in the process of training their intel services from the ground up, which will take several more years.  However, for most of these efforts, American combat troops will not be needed.

The time horizons suggested in this proposal look realistic, if a bit optimistic, at least in terms of the pullback from the urban areas in ten months.  As long as that move does not trigger more violence, the gradual reduction of combat forces over the next two years following that should occur fairly naturally as the troops will have little to do.  Meanwhile, a lasting presence for logistical and training support can help strengthen Iraq without stepping on its sovereignty.  This is what victory looks like.

Will this affect the American presidential race?  Perhaps a bit in favor of Barack Obama.  John McCain gets the bragging rights, and can legitimately show that Obama’s judgment failed in the greatest test of the war.  It’s one thing to say that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, but another entirely to declare that we needed to retreat as Obama said repeatedly from 2006 forward and lose, rather than change strategies and beat the terrorists arrayed against us at the time.

However, the victory in Iraq makes that issue far less compelling than it was six months ago.  Voters will focus more on the economy, where Obama’s populism has proven attractive, and less on foreign policy, unless Georgia heats up again.  If Obama is smart, he’ll simply stop talking about Iraq altogether.


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This is what victory looks like.

Amen!

MB007 on August 21, 2008 at 6:15 PM

Replace Iraq with Afghanistan. Obama was wrong on Iraq, therefore he should not be given the opportunity to be wrong in Afghanistan.

rw on August 21, 2008 at 6:17 PM

If I where McCain I would say to Obama if he tries to take credit for a withdrawl the answer would be

“We are leaving a peaceful secure Iraq that is a democracy and not a scarred splintered Iraq that would have happened if Obama had gotten his way. We leave in Victory not the defeat Obama tried to create.

William Amos on August 21, 2008 at 6:20 PM

Let`s hope it`s not the clack-clack-clack noise just before the rollercoaster rides really starts.

ThePrez on August 21, 2008 at 6:23 PM

The surge, hallowed be it’s name, which even Barack Obama now admits worked, gave the Maliki government enough time to press for political reconciliation

Did the Sunni Awakening get that reconciliation email or are they not on Maliki’s reconciliation email list?

This is what victory looks like.

What did we win? Gift Korans to kiss? Does the “victory” have an extended warranty or is it just Islam as is? Do we have to share the “victory” with the Iranians or do we have full custody?

MB4 on August 21, 2008 at 6:30 PM

We need to make our upcoming withdrawal and obvious victory a huge deal. We cannot leave this hanging for the leftist to batter us with. Victory in Iraq=Victory in november.

roninacreage on August 21, 2008 at 6:37 PM

What did we win? Gift Korans to kiss? Does the “victory” have an extended warranty or is it just Islam as is? Do we have to share the “victory” with the Iranians or do we have full custody?

MB4 on August 21, 2008 at 6:30 PM

The iraqi government might not be as good as we wish but its better than the Islamic State of Al Qaeda or the New Mahdi State of Sadr.

Democracy has a chance it wouldnt if the other outcome had come about.

William Amos on August 21, 2008 at 6:39 PM

holds up the peace victory sign

V… is for “Victory”!

Weebork on August 21, 2008 at 6:40 PM

Voters will focus more on the economy, where Obama’s populism has proven attractive, and less on foreign policy, unless Georgia heats up again.

And libs should take notice that Condi stressed negotiations last week regarding Georgia. She didn’t shoot anybody or drop any bombs. Really. Negotiation – it’s what we always try first.

whitetop on August 21, 2008 at 6:40 PM

New York Times, Section Z, 2nd to last page, below the fold, below last paragraph on “how paint dries”, printed upside down, in half font letters, with white ink…….

“It appears that the war in Iraq is a Victory for the United States, but not yet confirmed”

Seven Percent Solution on August 21, 2008 at 6:44 PM

time horizon

The Race Card on August 21, 2008 at 6:45 PM

Yippie!!! What this means is that after 2012 and the last of our American sons and daughters have died for the future profits of GWB & friends, the Iraqi people can go back to killing each other without the occasional interference of American troops. I suppose if Juan McShame is still alive he’ll have another pre-emptive, nation-building war he can vote for in the future.

DanKenton on August 21, 2008 at 6:48 PM

… the Iraqis want to see some firm end to American combat operations …

As soon as all the bad guys are dead, or at least enough of them that the I.A can handle what’s left.

Tony737 on August 21, 2008 at 6:51 PM

and the last of our American sons and daughters have died for the future profits of GWB & friends, the Iraqi people can go back to killing each other without the occasional interference of American troops

Not just GWB. I made a freakin shitload in defense and oil stocks. I used a big part of it to fund McCain’s campaign so we can start all over again in Iran. F’ing great!! I’m even invited to the convention as a friend of John. I am going to be so rich. If you wanna get in on it, buy shit like Halliburton–the Ayrabs bought the company but you can still buy it on the Dubai or HK exchanges.

How you making out?

JiangxiDad on August 21, 2008 at 7:01 PM

It’s one thing to say that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, but another entirely to declare that we needed to retreat as Obama

I agree with your statement, as whether or not to leave a war is not nearly as important a decision as whether to get into a war in the first place.

But I somehow don’t think that’s what you meant.

e-pirate on August 21, 2008 at 7:18 PM

Yippie!!! What this means is that after 2012 and the last of our American sons and daughters have died for the future profits of GWB & friends, the Iraqi people can go back to killing each other without the occasional interference of American troops. I suppose if Juan McShame is still alive he’ll have another pre-emptive, nation-building war he can vote for in the future.

DanKenton on August 21, 2008 at 6:48 PM

Why don’t you go to Iraq or Afghanistan, where ever my son is now and tell him that, to his face. I think that he would enlighten you to the facts.

Johan Klaus on August 21, 2008 at 7:23 PM

If Obama is smart, he’ll simply stop talking about Iraq altogether.

He’s not smart; he’s a tool of the people who use him, and he needs to placate the nutroots ( see e-pirate here and on other threads for a typical example of who Obama needs to keep pandering to )

McCain’s Rich!!! Bush Lied!!! Cheney Haliburton!!! Hope & Change!!!

The Messiah is in a big hole, but can’t stop digging

Janos Hunyadi on August 21, 2008 at 7:28 PM

DanKenton on August 21, 2008 at 6:48 PM

troll alert ( Do Not Feed )

Janos Hunyadi on August 21, 2008 at 7:30 PM

keeping my fingers crossed.

Terrye on August 21, 2008 at 7:49 PM

Dan:

That is a lie.

Terrye on August 21, 2008 at 7:49 PM

Janos:

I could not help myself. sorry.

Terrye on August 21, 2008 at 7:50 PM

It’s hard to NOT swat flies, Terrye

Janos Hunyadi on August 21, 2008 at 8:00 PM


Why don’t you go to Iraq or Afghanistan, where ever my son is now and tell him that, to his face. I think that he would enlighten you to the facts.

Johan Klaus on August 21, 2008 at 7:23 PM

Well Klaus my business takes me to the Middle East several times a year. I am well aware of the reality of our presence there as shared by those that must live with the aftermath of our involvement. No offense to your son as he is simply doing what he signed on for but the mission is, has been and will be recored in history as a war of opportunity for Bush and Co. I suggest you make yourself familiar with the now-declassifed NSA, Treasury Dept. and WH Staff memos from January-March 2001 which show an agenda to topple Iraq and “reposition” its economy to meet the needs of the USA…well before 9/11 and well before Bush and Co’s hot rhetoric on “regime change”. Bush promised NO NATION BUILDING in 2000 and this is EXACTLY what we have done. Don’t think so? I suppose you think this sudden change of mind from Bush & Co on pullout dates was well thought out?

DanKenton on August 21, 2008 at 8:13 PM

AQI declares victory in 5..4..3..

Kafir on August 21, 2008 at 9:03 PM

This is what victory looks like.

Who knew there was a timetable for victory?

starfleet_dude on August 22, 2008 at 12:22 PM