Uh oh: Iraq may take up offer to extend American presence

posted at 3:36 pm on May 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

About six weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled that the Obama administration might change directions on its pledge to withdraw all US forces from Iraq at the end of the year.  Gates told troops during a visit to Baghdad that the Iraqi government would have to act quickly to make the request, as the process of withdrawal would start in earnest soon.  Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen later said that the Iraqis had been silent on the issue, but provided tacit confirmation that the White House was open to, er, hope and change.

They’re silent no more, as National Journal reported last night:

Obama’s position—one he staked out as a candidate chasing the Democratic nomination in 2008—was bolstered by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s repeated insistence that the U.S. military sticks to the withdrawal timeline.

But this week, for the first time, al-Maliki indicated a willingness to call for an extension of the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond this year’s troop withdrawal deadline. Maliki announced Wednesday that he’d be willing to ask for some troops to remain if there’s consensus among Iraq’s various political blocs that a continued American presence is needed. Such consensus is anything but assured but the mere fact that Maliki raised the issue had deep resonance in Washington.

Maliki’s remarks came as a surprise to administration officials. In private talks with Iraqi officials, the United States has broached the idea of leaving some of the 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq beyond this year. Publicly, the administration has not said one way or another whether it would honor a request from Iraq to keep U.S. troops there after this year.

The surprise may be Maliki’s openness to the idea.  It’s been received wisdom in the US media and among the Left that the Iraqis want us out of their country.  No doubt some of them do; Moqtada al-Sadr has often threatened to start a civil war if US forces don’t leave, no doubt encouraged by his Iranian sponsors.

But clearly, that’s not the case.  Iraq doesn’t have much of an air force, for one thing, and an American withdrawal will put them at a serious disadvantage against Syria and Iran.  They need more time to rebuild those forces, as well as more logistical and training support for their ground forces.  The biggest political problem for Maliki was solved when the US withdrew from the cities and took on a much lower profile in Iraq.

A change of mind by Obama on Iraq in response to an explicit request for continuing the military partnership would certainly be welcome.  Under the circumstances in the region, having a significant American force based in the center of the Middle East without the complications that staying in Saudi Arabia created would be a real advantage to us, especially in dealing with Iran.  Politically, though, it could create huge problems for Obama on his Left, and reneging on the clear and public invitations from Gates and Mullen would be disastrous with everyone else.


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Seems more like Bush was right every day.

unclesmrgol on May 13, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Boy, that Bush foreign policy is looking better and better the longer Dumbo is in office! Take a sucka that, Code Pink and everyone else that believed an Obama promise!!!!

search4truth on May 13, 2011 at 3:40 PM

It’s been received wisdom in the US media and among the Left …

But you repeat yourself….

Patrick S on May 13, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Stop with the lies, people. Obama pulled US troops out of Iraq within 16 months of taking over as CinC just like he promised. We’ve been out of Iraq since May 2010, right? /sarc

blink on May 13, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Yeah, remember all the parades and celebrations? Good times, good times.

cynccook on May 13, 2011 at 3:42 PM

100 years…

the_nile on May 13, 2011 at 3:42 PM

How about announcing a withdrawal of at least half our forces- left over in Europe since WW2?

michaelo on May 13, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Of course we’re not leaving. There’s too much money involved.

Notorious GOP on May 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Reality keeps hitting Obama in the face over and over, killing off his hope-and-change rhetoric.

jediwebdude on May 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Obama’s inability to achieve his objectives in the Middle East demonstrate an old military adage that strategy is for amateurs while logistics is for professionals…

Obama is an Amateur; Bush was a professional…

RedSoxNation on May 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Good. It keeps the pressure on Iran; and keeps them from just waltzing into Iraq.

RocketmanBob on May 13, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Of course we’re not leaving. There’s too much money involved.

Notorious GOP on May 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Well, yeah, those IEDs may be cheap, but they aren’t free.

cynccook on May 13, 2011 at 3:46 PM

How about selling us some cheap oil?

rjoco1 on May 13, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Campaigning is easy. Governing is hard.

Kafir on May 13, 2011 at 3:47 PM

don’t be fooled…the dims are totally duplicitous…it is who they are. Their goal during Bush was to delegitimate Rs (and Bush)…their only goal, forever and always, is to gain power so as to enrich themselves and their friends.

Long quote…but this is who they are on everything:

“In a dangerous world, there is a clear set of policies that is required to protect the country, but only one party is honest about it.” Jim Geraghty says this by way of saying that Ross Douthat and Jonah Goldberg are too charitable toward the Democrats’ national security policy. He’s right – but also way too charitable himself. Why?

Assume that Democrats know that Republicans will generally support them when Democrats are in the White House and taking tough national security positions. But the Democrats also send unmistakeable signals to the electorate that, if they are pushed out of power, they will undermine a Republican administration trying to do exactly the same, and taking exactly the same actions. Their support is not reciprocal even when the action is the same. Message to voters:

“Paradoxically, the more you value national security, the more you actually need to vote for Democrats, because we’re the ones who matter on the margin, not the Republicans. We have the hold-up, not the Republicans. The Republicans in principle might be tougher than us – but unless we are in office, we will hold up all or most or much of it, so their extra toughness doesn’t matter, because it will be less than ours. The Republicans would be tougher than us – but we’re actually the best you’re going to do, because if the Republicans take office, we’ll make sure they do less. So thanks for your national-security vote – TeamObama, investing today in tomorrow’s Nash Equilibrium.”

http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/120601/

r keller on May 13, 2011 at 3:48 PM

If we don’t pull out, Obama must resign.

Promises mean things and are not empty words.

Khun Joe on May 13, 2011 at 3:48 PM

How about selling us some cheap oil?

rjoco1 on May 13, 2011 at 3:46 PM

…or, we have some great deals on some slightly used jets…

right2bright on May 13, 2011 at 3:50 PM

you mean that oil mongering, oil hungry, Obama is in it now just of the oil…if we don’t pull out, it must be the oil barrons who are pulling his strings…if the mantra were the same.

right2bright on May 13, 2011 at 3:53 PM

So, how does BO win in 2012?

ORconservative on May 13, 2011 at 3:54 PM

If we don’t pull out, Obama must resign.

Promises mean things and are not empty words.

Khun Joe on May 13, 2011 at 3:48 PM

If a GOP nominee were Prez right now, they’d be doing the exact same thing. Like I said, there’s too much money to be made.

Notorious GOP on May 13, 2011 at 3:56 PM

If we don’t pull out, Obama must resign.

Promises mean things and are not empty words.

Khun Joe on May 13, 2011 at 3:48 PM

It seems you haven’t been paying much attention the last two years.

All of Obama’s promises have an expiration date.

It’s ok, he’s a liberal. He can do and say whatever he needs to for the expansion of liberal power over the rest of us.

That’s just the way it is.

Brian1972 on May 13, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Politically, though, it could create huge problems for Obama on his Left, and reneging on the clear and public invitations from Gates and Mullen would be disastrous with everyone else.

Heh, good one, Ed. If Libya is not only not causing him political headaches but isn’t even a topic of discussion anymore(even within Congress) and assassinating an unarmed bin Laden draws kudos from anyone not named Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky, then what exactly does he have to fear from the Left? Like they’re gonna vote Republican?

Doughboy on May 13, 2011 at 3:58 PM

We’ll pull out of Iraq when we pull out of Germany & Japan.

portlandon on May 13, 2011 at 3:58 PM

So Obama…..how does it feel to eat your words? How does it feel to not only have been called a dumb arse, but be proven to be one as well?

capejasmine on May 13, 2011 at 3:59 PM

So, how does BO win in 2012? ORconservative on May 13, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Easy answer: GOP ticket=RINO’s and has been’s.

What’s a solution? Allen West.

Dingbat63 on May 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Oh, the Left may hem and haw if this were to happen but they’ll still support the guy, send him money and vote for him.

Of course they will.

catmman on May 13, 2011 at 4:04 PM

What’s a solution? Allen West.

Dingbat63 on May 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM

I don’t believe you can simultaneously run for President and re-election to 22nd district, Florida.

He has plainly stated he’s seeking re-election to the House in 2012.

Brian1972 on May 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM

So Obama…..how does it feel to eat your words? How does it feel to not only have been called a dumb arse, but be proven to be one as well?

capejasmine on May 13, 2011 at 3:59 PM

If he stays in power , he dont care either way.

the_nile on May 13, 2011 at 4:07 PM

you mean that oil mongering, oil hungry, Obama is in it now just of the oil…if we don’t pull out, it must be the oil barrons who are pulling his strings…if the mantra were the same.

right2bright on May 13, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Same reason we’re militarily involved in Libya?

We might not need Iraq’s (or Libya’s or Saudi Arabia’s) oil so much if we drilled for it in friendlier, demilitarized areas…like the Gulf of Mexico, the straits of Florida, offshore California, northern Alaska, or shale oil under Colorado…

Steve Z on May 13, 2011 at 4:07 PM

So how much are they paying us to stay?

John Deaux on May 13, 2011 at 4:09 PM

lefty heads to start exploding in 5…4…3…

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Iraq – the 58th State. Welcome to the Union brothers!

j_galt on May 13, 2011 at 4:15 PM

And how much oil will they be giving us every month?

Star20 on May 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Nation Building Obama!
Fire up the poster/ad

ORconservative on May 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

I blame Bushitler.

Akzed on May 13, 2011 at 4:20 PM

At some point I would expect that those who bought the lies and piles of BS from candidate 0′Barry and his minions in the MSM… would get all wee-weed up about all this ‘following Bush’s lead’…
-
Barry ran as a 180 from what W had going, and also against most of our own interests… so don’t get me wrong… I’m heartened at every announcement that is made that he will not be changing a current policy, or that at least he’ll now have to consider that Bush may have been right.
-
But had I voted for this POS… I would now be feeling like I’d been had.
-
Maybe if we’re lucky, he can piss-off enough lefties so that they stay home, enough moderates so that they vote for change (again)… and enough of the right so that we hit the polls in a tsunami.
-
It would be great to put an exclamation point on the end of his 4 year presidency… and at the same time create a mandate against most of the crap that he and Pelosi, Reed and Co. put in place… It would make it easier to undo some of the damage.
-

RalphyBoy on May 13, 2011 at 4:21 PM

How about announcing a withdrawal of at least half our forces- left over in Europe since WW2?

michaelo on May 13, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Shhhh…not so loud!

Stick to the script, Brother-we pulled them all out for Desert Storm then brought them back here.

Russia is a Democracy. Russia is our friend.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 13, 2011 at 4:21 PM

So, how does BO win in 2012?

ORconservative on May 13, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Time honored Dhimmi method: fraud. Same as always

oldleprechaun on May 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

lefty heads to start exploding in 5…4…3…

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Some righty heads are exploding too.

How many year long tours before are military men and women reach exhaustion? Many have spent over half of the last decade in the Middle East. When will you decide they have sacrificed enough?

Socmodfiscon on May 13, 2011 at 4:24 PM

I don’t believe you can simultaneously run for President and re-election to 22nd district, Florida. He has plainly stated he’s seeking re-election to the House in 2012.
Brian1972 on May 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM

I know that. But, if Osama can have porn, I can have wet dreams.

Dingbat63 on May 13, 2011 at 4:24 PM

I said “as long and in Germany or South Korea”…if only they’d pay for it, all of them, aside from their big mouths.

Now, on Gutsybama, all he ever says “has an expiration date”. But…one of the trolls sais “it doesn’t matter what he said, it matters what he does”.

Right on!

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM

“as long as in Germany…”

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 4:26 PM

So … are the blinders dropping off other people’s eyes, yet? They are the same party.

j_galt on May 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Socmodfiscon on May 13, 2011 at 4:24 PM

good question, i’ll rely on the folks on the ground…

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Is this something to celebrate? Obama is just another neo-con, whoopee? He’s making the same mistakes as Boosh, hip hip hooray?

We’re flat broke and we’re making a long term military commitment to another country? Insane.

james23 on May 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Is this something to celebrate? Obama is just another neo-con, whoopee? He’s making the same mistakes as Boosh, hip hip hooray?

We’re flat broke and we’re making a long term military commitment to another country? Insane.

james23 on May 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Well, no, it’s not something any sane person would celebrate. But, it seems that many people liked the way W did things (increased the federal deficit, invaded two countries) so they’re happy that O is following in W’s foot steps, especially when they can say, “We told you so! Booooosh rocks!”

j_galt on May 13, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Policy changes with the facts on the ground.
Evolving strategy.
Hasn’t cleared it with Michelle.

Ho hum.

BobMbx on May 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM

We can’t pull out until after the Iraqi Boat Lift.

It’s part of the procedure.

BobMbx on May 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

crr6 is going to have to update her list of Obama accomplishments.

Chuck Schick on May 13, 2011 at 5:04 PM

When Bush was ending his 2nd term I said we would be there another 10 years. (at least )

CWforFreedom on May 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM

It’s been received wisdom in the US media and among the Left that the Iraqis want us out of their country.

As Ron White has said “You can’t fix stupid”. Given that the heads of the MSM and of progressives (but I repeat myself) are lodged firmly up their posterior orifices – it’s a wonder they are aware of anything in the real world.

GarandFan on May 13, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Who here is surprised? A show of hands? Nobody?

Bob's Kid on May 13, 2011 at 6:01 PM

The more Obama keeps Bush’s foreign policies in place, the more Bush will wind up becoming a Harry Truman type figure…..maligned when he left office, and then respected and missed years later.

THIS IS WHY THE LEFT HATED BUSH!!!

They hated him because he was in power when 9/11 happened. He created the narrative for how we would respond, and the vast majority of the country approved of his response, at least initially. Then the MSM tried to destroy him and chipped, chipped, chipped away at his poll numbers. They couldn’t prevent him from being re-elected, but when the insurgency got really bloody, they were able to drive down support for the war.

But if Iraq becomes the most stable, reliable ally in the Mideast, and multiple Presidents go along with keeping a military presence there, Bush’s approval numbers will keep going up.

The “Vietnam syndrome” was holy to the Left. Bush smashed it in a million pieces, and all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put that glass bong together again.

ardenenoch on May 13, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Americans in Iraq can also help keep the peace between the Kurds in northern Iraq and the Turks.

KW64 on May 14, 2011 at 12:26 AM