Mullen: Iraq not requesting us to stay longer — yet

posted at 1:36 pm on April 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Almost two weeks ago, Robert Gates told troops in Iraq that the Obama administration would extend the American military commitment in the country if requested to do so by the Nouri al-Maliki government.  That represented a significant reversal for Barack Obama, who campaigned on the promise to end the American military presence in Iraq.  Today, the chair of the Joint Chiefs more or less confirmed the offer by telling the Iraqis that time is short if they want to take us up on it:

Iraq has not requested an extension of an end-2011 deadline for the United States to withdraw its troops, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday, following talks with Iraq’s prime minister.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on a visit to Baghdad that Iraq would need to begin talks very soon if it wanted to alter that plan in order to avoid “irrevocable logistics and operational decisions we must make in the coming weeks.”

Actually, that deadline is approaching quickly.  It will take months to ship back the hardware assigned to the units in Iraq, and even the eight months left this year before the time on the SOFA expires might be cutting it a bit short.  Any decision to ask for an extended stay would have to be made now, rather than mid-summer.

Unfortunately, the Iraqi government isn’t known for its timely consideration of pressing matters.  They nearly hold the record for taking the longest period of time after an election to form a parliamentary government, a delay that came close to destroying the basis for the nascent democracy.  Plus, Nouri al-Maliki might want to continue a military alliance with the US — he’s certainly hinted at it — but it’s almost impossible domestically.  Moqtada al-Sadr has threatened to go to open war if the US doesn’t leave on time, and his political party forms an important part of Maliki’s coalition.  Even if he was willing to defy Sadr, it’s beyond unlikely that Obama would keep troops in Iraq if it means once more conducting combat operations in the country, as Sadr has threatened to fight directly against American troops.

That’s too bad, because the Obama administration actually has the right idea in attempting to keep us in Iraq.  Their security forces on the ground have improved considerably over the past few years, but the US conducts a good part of their logistical support — and Iraq still doesn’t have a viable air force to reliably protect its skies.  If Maliki doesn’t have the political courage (or support, to be fair) to extend our military alliance, we’ll have no choice but to exit, and that determination will come very, very soon.


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It will probaby go south very fast if we leave now.

Southernblogger on April 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM

I know it’s a strategic location to contain Iran, but hey, let’s get out. Screw ‘em!

cartooner on April 22, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Heh.

davidk on April 22, 2011 at 1:52 PM

That’s too bad, because the Obama administration actually has the right idea in attempting to keep us in Iraq. Their security forces on the ground have improved considerably over the past few years, but the US conducts a good part of their logistical support — and Iraq still doesn’t have a viable air force to reliably protect its skies.

If the Iraqi’s haven’t got it together after this amount of time they aren’t ever going to.

sharrukin on April 22, 2011 at 1:55 PM

The days before January 20, 2013 that we will be allowed to remain are inversely proportional to the rising Poll numbers that show Trump is firing Obama.

jimw on April 22, 2011 at 1:57 PM

“Any decision to ask for an extended stay would have to be made now, rather than mid-summer.”

Don’t worry…

… Obowma will appoint Biden to create a commission to study the issue for review by a panel which will advise the consultants which will table the matter for discussion at the next symposium which will be scheduled right after the conclusion of the creation of the new bureaucracy in charge of the task force.

Seven Percent Solution on April 22, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Its time to go… Obama PROMISED!!

Khun Joe on April 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Unfortunately, the Iraqi government isn’t known for its timely consideration of pressing matters.

So we did make an impression and influence how their government operates.

WashJeff on April 22, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I forgot the Blue Ribbon Panel…

Seven Percent Solution on April 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM

I was reading this AM that Henry Kissinger, a man that I greatly respect, has given several speeches lately pushing for a military ground invasion of Libya to last at least a year. With the ultimate goal of moving on to overthrowing the Iranian govt. If we leave Iraq, Iran will take the oil fields and we’ll be back there quickly.

MJZZZ on April 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

That’s too bad, because the Obama administration actually has the right idea in attempting to keep us in Iraq.

Not unless we got deed to half their oil. What are we their unpaid infidel slaves?

Heckle on April 22, 2011 at 3:15 PM

It will probaby go south very fast if we leave now.

Southernblogger on April 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM

It already has. There have been a number of articles about how much more dangerous it is today than in Saddam’s Iraq.

bw222 on April 22, 2011 at 3:37 PM

“Fujitsu Frontech, a major high-tech company, will move its manufacturing facilities from Foothill Ranch, California to New York”

UM….HUH?

New York is just as business repellent, has just about the same horrendous taxes, stifling regulations and the weather sucks compared to California.

This move was not motivated by economics.

Opposite Day on April 22, 2011 at 4:16 PM