Odierno: Deadlines may be broken

posted at 10:12 am on April 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When George Bush signed off on the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq late last year, Barack Obama had to draw a sigh of relief.  After having been proven wrong on the surge and his demand for retreat in Iraq, Obama now had a framework for withdrawal for which he had no political responsibility.  With Bush agreeing to withdraw American troops from Iraqi cities by June 30th, all Obama had to do was follow the script.

Unfortunately, the SOFA may not be that comfy after all.  General Ray Odierno now warns that the Americans may have to miss the June 30 deadline in at least two cities, if Nouri al-Maliki agrees that his forces are not quite ready to face off alone against resistant al-Qaeda remnants:

The activities of al-Qaeda in two of Iraq’s most troubled cities could keep US combat troops engaged beyond the June 30 deadline for their withdrawal, the top US commander in the country has warned.

US troop numbers in Mosul and Baqubah, in the north of the country, could rise rather than fall over the next year if necessary, General Ray Odierno told The Times in his first interview with a British newspaper since taking over from General David Petraeus in September.

He said that a joint assessment would be conducted with the Iraqi authorities in the coming weeks before a decision is made.

Maliki could flat-out refuse to allow the deadline to slip, which would make things easier for Obama.  Maliki’s insistence on timetables over conditions might make sense for him.  The SOFA had limited popularity in Iraq, and what popularity it enjoyed came from the pullback of American troops at the end of June.  He might figure that a delay in two cities won’t cost him much, especially if a pullback emboldens AQI, but Maliki may also believe his own troops to be ready to handle the job.

If Maliki agrees to a delay, that will set back Obama’s plans to draw down troops in Iraq, and that will create more problems for him at home.  His own caucus has become restive on the issue of war funding, wanting commitments to exit strategies and timetables in exchange for funding — an ironic consistency between Obama and Bush. They’re not going to want to hear that Obama has extended the combat status of forces in Iraq, even if we’re fighting terrorists in Mosul and Baqubah.

Obama can’t afford to let Iraq slip back into chaos, either, since Bush handed him an almost-finished victory there.  Losing Iraq would be a disaster for Obama, at home and abroad.  Odierno’s assessment puts him in a tough position, with no easy answers.  Will he demonstrate leadership and adjust to the changing conditions, or will he acquiesce to his anti-war base and demand a strict adherence to the SOFA even while terrorists remain in northern Iraq?   I hope it’s the former, but I fear — from Obama’s own rhetoric and previous bad choices — it will be the latter.


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What will the TOTUS tell him to do?

aquaviva on April 10, 2009 at 10:17 AM

“We’re talking about housing now, guys.”

AubieJon on April 10, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Reality has consequences.

the_nile on April 10, 2009 at 10:17 AM

The handwriting is already on the wall. Strong horse-weak horse?
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30151488

a capella on April 10, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Fear not! Whether it be Europe, South Korea or the Gulf of Aden, somewhere, somehow, Obama will be withdrawing US troops.

ignorantapathy on April 10, 2009 at 10:18 AM

I, seriously, hope we have a base in Iraq for at least 50 years (e.g., Germany & Japan). We need to let time purge tyranny and militant violence from their society. That will only happen when the younger generations are exposed to the consistency of peaceful society and the older generations moves on from this world.

Who knows, maybe they will become wimps like Germany (which is not good either).

WashJeff on April 10, 2009 at 10:20 AM

He can’t go back on this, but he will. More proof that he doesn’t know what he is doing. Voting “Present” again just isn’t going to cut it. He is making a huge mess of everything and someone has to notice soon.

BetseyRoss on April 10, 2009 at 10:20 AM

My first thought is that Obama will stick to SOFA no matter what because he cannot be comfortable with the flack he is already getting on his Afghanistan decisions.

But my hope is that Obama will follow the advice of Gen. Odierno. If Obama is stalwart about victory, he can convince Malaki of the right course.

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 10:21 AM

It’s just another of those “annoying distractions”

LankyLou on April 10, 2009 at 10:23 AM

I’m sure the Chicago Jesus has an answer… “Where is the Telepromter?? Anyone seen my note cards??? Since you have talked to Bush, Joe what do we do??”.

Dire Straits on April 10, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Heh, combine this with Obowa’s request for supplemental war funding and the leftie anti-war groups must find themselves in an awful conundrum.

Second life for giant paper-mache heads?

Bishop on April 10, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Obama lied – people died!

marklmail on April 10, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Can’t we just let him eat his (position) waffle?

NoDonkey on April 10, 2009 at 10:28 AM

It’s Bush’s fault.

ladyingray on April 10, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Odierno speaking in a British newspaper. Guess NYT was too busy drooling.

hawksruleva on April 10, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Heh, combine this with Obowa’s request for supplemental war funding and the leftie anti-war groups must find themselves in an awful conundrum.

Second life for giant paper-mache heads?

Bishop on April 10, 2009 at 10:25 AM

What happened to his “new era of honesty” in the budget?

hawksruleva on April 10, 2009 at 10:31 AM

What happened to his “new era of honesty” in the budget?

hawksruleva on April 10, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Did Obama promise that or did the teleprompter?

Great Leader cannot be held responsible for technical difficulties.

NoDonkey on April 10, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Nice pic! Obama standing next to a Real Man.

pseudonominus on April 10, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Axelrod is currently working feverishly on a TOTUS upgrade with Iraq scripts.

faraway on April 10, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Nice pic! Obama standing next to a Real Man.

pseudonominus on April 10, 2009 at 10:37 AM

According to Biden, the Official Obowa Admin. Historian, Ogabe is 6’4″, 220 lbs. of wiry steel.

AubieJon on April 10, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Axelrod is currently working feverishly on a TOTUS upgrade with Iraq scripts.
faraway on April 10, 2009 at 10:38 AM

President Ogabe never said he would pull troops out of Iraq. And he DID NOT bow.

Bishop on April 10, 2009 at 10:41 AM

What concerns me the most about this is if we leave and chaos ensues, people are killed, and things in general go terribly wrong; then we have left the Iraqi people twice in a lurch. During the Gulf War we encouraged them to attempt to take out Sadam, and thousands upon thousands were murdered. I get it that democracy is something the people themselves need to fight for and Maliki is not exactly Sadam, but it would not take much for Iran or some other country to remove Maliki and place another Sadam like monster in place to govern Iraq. I am with having a base there to make sure something like this does not take place. Talk about wanting to have good relations with the Muslim world! A lot of them are going to be killed in Iraq if we do not make sure the country is stable and able to defend itself against the likes of Turkey, Iran, Syria and any other nut desirous of tyranny.

The second concern more closer to home are the thoughts of those who sacrificed so much in Iraq. I mean what are they going to think if we pull out and chaos ensues? Are they going to think we did all this for nothing, or why ever serve the nation if these politicians cannot rub two neurons together in order to properly lead? Will they have to go back? Will they be demoralized because of some bone headed decision like this? Our military has paid a high price for Iraqi democracy such as it is. Is anyone in Washington thinking about this? Yeah, I doubt it too!

freeus on April 10, 2009 at 10:42 AM

I, seriously, hope we have a base in Iraq for at least 50 years (e.g., Germany & Japan). We need to let time purge tyranny and militant violence from their society. That will only happen when the younger generations are exposed to the consistency of peaceful society and the older generations moves on from this world.

Makes perfect sense to me.

scalleywag on April 10, 2009 at 10:42 AM

“Obama said that while President Bush has said that he follows the advice of his generals regarding Iraq, when they give the president advice he doesn’t like — cautioning against the War in Iraq, for example — Bush doesn’t listen to them.”

http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/839220,obamaweb031208.article

Do you think Obama will listen to his generals now that HE’S the one receiving advice he doesn’t like?

Troika37 on April 10, 2009 at 10:45 AM

freeus on April 10, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Exactly. It’s too soon, and like you said, we can’t have done this all for nothing. We just lost 5 more brave souls. The threat is still there and if an entity senses any type of weakness there, it could easily fall into the hands of another ruthless dictator. It’s great what we’ve accomplished there. Now we have a friend in the region where the was none for decades. It would be a tragedy to lose it out of carelessness and bad decision making.

scalleywag on April 10, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Odierno’s assessment puts him in a tough position, with no easy answers.

Doesn’t put barry in as tough a situation as it does Odierno. The whitehouse will rip this general a new one and you won’t hear him talking honestly anymore.

peacenprosperity on April 10, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Losing Iraq would be a disaster for Obama

If only Obama’s [many] disasters would stick to him… Every other week during the election he had “campaign-ending disasters” but here we are. The man is a walking disaster (only to be outdone by Biden, or course), yet he is still worshipped by the masses. What will it take for the scales to fall from people’s eyes?

CaliConstitutionalist on April 10, 2009 at 10:56 AM

One Minor Quibble:

Losing Iraq would be a disaster for Obama

Losing in Iraq would be a disaster for alot more people than just Obama (praise be his name). This problem has alot more consequences than political fallout, actual people will be killed and actualy atrocities will occur if AQ is allowed to take over in Iraq because Obama is too big a moral coward to stand up to the anti-war freaks and finish the job. We have plenty of detailed evidence of how these AQ maniacs treat the locals who helped Americans in areas where they formerly had control.

Mord on April 10, 2009 at 10:58 AM

Did a little searching about this pic and I was able to obtain a garbled audio portion of this exchange:

“You see that shiny looking object up there circling the area?”
“Umm,hum.”
“That’s one of our Predators. Now, I want to very clear with you, Mr. President. If you even so much as attempt to dick up the progress we’ve made over here with your posturing and put any more American lives in danger, here’s what’s gonna happen. Two rockets will be fired with you as the target. One will be lased at your nappy little head. The other will be sent right up your a$$. They will meet where your balls should be. Is that clear enough for you?”
“Umm, hum.”

That’s all that I could make out of the recording, but I could be hearing things.

OkieDoc on April 10, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Unfortunately, the SOFA may not be that comfy after all. General Ray Odierno now warns that the Americans may have to miss the June 30 deadline in at least two cities,

Don’t worry. The check is in the mail. It should arrive someday.

if Nouri al-Maliki agrees that his forces are not quite ready to face off alone against resistant al-Qaeda remnants

Not quite ready? What are the odds? “Missed it by that much” (holds thumb and finger very close together). They have only had how many years now, and just how ready do they have to be to hold their own against remnants (a surviving trace or vestige)?

MB4 on April 10, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Has anyone else noticed that the violence has started going back up since Barack Hussein announced the withdrawl? Gee, I wonder why? They see a weak ass in command and realize that they can still win despite the tremendous job of our braves troops.

It`s his war now.And like everything else so far, he doesn`t have a clue what to do.

Rockshine on April 10, 2009 at 11:18 AM

If Maliki agrees to a delay, that will set back Obama’s plans to draw down troops in Iraq, and that will create more problems for him at home.

Much more importantly it will also create problems for any Soldiers who are “stop lossed”, aka “Backdoor draft”.

MB4 on April 10, 2009 at 11:19 AM

I hope I am wrong but I think he is going to pull the troops out. This man is such narcissist that he would rather be “right” then look at the long term goals of a functioning democracy in the Middle East. He can use the financial situation and his promises to end the war and never look back on the decision.

Cindy Munford on April 10, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Obama can’t afford to let Iraq slip back into chaos, either, since Bush handed him an almost-finished victory there.

If Iraq “slips back into chaos”, with all the troops and contractors that we still have there, and all the troops and contractors that we will still have there beaucoup moons, at a minimum, from now then I don’t know how Bush could possibly have handed Obama “an almost-finished victory there”. That does not compute.

MB4 on April 10, 2009 at 11:25 AM

You all are forgetting the statute of limitations on everything that the Bamster says!

Christian Conservative on April 10, 2009 at 11:25 AM

ummmm, that’s okay because Obama is doing it…no problem, Obama is doing it…raise taxes, no problem, Obama is doing it…a surge in Afgan, no probem, Obama is doing it…continue and expand the domestic spying, no problem, Obama is doing it…stay in Iraq, no problem, Obama is doing it.
Bush should have just changed his name to Obama.

right2bright on April 10, 2009 at 11:41 AM

What concerns me the most about this is if we leave and chaos ensues, people are killed, and things in general go terribly wrong; then we have left the Iraqi people twice in a lurch.

Left the Iraqi people twice in a lurch?

Good God, how much do we owe them? We overthrew Saddam for them. Got rid of his two spawn too. We have already been there over 6 years. Over 4,000 American troops are dead. Many American widows. Many American children without a father or in some cases, mother. Many thousands more permanently disabled. Probably over a trillion dollars, that we dont have, already spent on them. We don’t owe them jack; they owe us.

MB4 on April 10, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Will(Obama)demonstrate leadership and adjust to the changing conditions, or will he acquiesce to his anti-war base and demand a strict adherence to the SOFA even while terrorists remain in northern Iraq?

Its pretty clear by now that the Diapered Rookie HAS no principles to which he will adhere at all cost (building an ACORN wing of the WH doesnt count).
His decision on Iraq will be based entirely on what Obama calculates as the best political path for him personally.

If leaving Iraq to the wolves means he’ll get a jump in the polls, he will do it in a South Chicago minute. If staying to shore up the hard-won near-victory is the best political strategy for him personally, he’ll do that.

Mike D. on April 10, 2009 at 12:34 PM

“Obama can’t afford to let Iraq slip back into chaos”

Sure he can! And his sycophants will have no problem with it. After all, it was George Bush’s war, and ‘the surge’ ultimately FAILED just as Obama said it would. The script practically writes itself. It would be put down as a Bush FAILURE. Just like the current budget. It was a HOLDOVER from the previous administration. Everyone KNOWS it.

GarandFan on April 12, 2009 at 3:13 PM