Panetta tells Congress that Iraq will ask for extended US troop commitment

posted at 11:33 am on June 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Get ready for some fireworks on the Left if Leon Panetta’s prediction comes true.  Iraq will likely ask the US to extend its troop commitment beyond the departure date negotiated by George W. Bush in 2008 in the Status of Forces Agreement, which Barack Obama has used to claim as a promise kept to get America out of Iraq.  Panetta told the Senate that the US needs to respond positively to maintain the progress made in Iraq:

Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Pentagon, predicted on Thursday that Iraq will ask the United States to keep some American forces in that country beyond year’s end, the current departure date. …

“I think it’s clear to me that Iraq is considering the possibility of making a request for some kind of presence to remain there,” Panetta said, adding that it was contingent on what Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requests. “I have every confidence that a request like that is something that I think will be forthcoming at some point.”

Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are about 1,000 al-Qaida insurgents in Iraq and the situation is fragile. “I believe that we should take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that we protect whatever progress we’ve made there,” he said.

Gee, you know who else said that?  John McCain, during the presidential campaign.  Democrats responded maturely with a claim that McCain wanted to stay in Iraq for 100 years of war.  Obama reiterated his promise to pull American troops fully out of Iraq within 16 months.

Hope and change, baby.  Hope and change.

That’s not to say that Panetta’s wrong; he’s absolutely right.  The gains in Iraq are too hard-bought to see them dissipate due to a lack of will by the US, especially if Iraq is willing to invite us to stay.  Furthermore, Panetta’s estimate of AQ fighters in Iraq is about seven times that of the administration’s estimate of AQ in Afghanistan.  If AQ still wants to square off against the US military and Iraq wants us to continue to fight them on the ground, it’s a good opportunity to have them waste their resources fighting soldiers and Marines rather than targeting American civilians at home … as George W. Bush and John McCain also argued.

Hope and change, baby.  Hope and change.

Besides, we want Iraq to gain strength and independence in relation to its larger neighbor, Iran. An American pullout would put a weak Iraq at the mercy of the mullahs to their east and invite all sorts of mischief.  Keeping significant levels in Iraq allows us to have a military presence on both sides of Iran, a position that allows us to exert pressure on the mullahs, a situation that the Iraqis probably would want to see continued for their own purposes.

If American troops stay in Iraq, though, the Left will pitch an absolute fit.  They will scream about broken promises and make the easy comparison to Bush and McCain.  That doesn’t mean that the Left will be able to challenge Obama in a primary, but it will mean that all of the progressive enthusiasm and anti-Bush rallying cries will be notably diminished or absent in 2012.  Given the state of the economy, that’s likely to produce the kind of change for which Obama hadn’t planned.

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They told me if I voted McCain, we would never get out of Iraq.

A Balrog of Morgoth on June 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Tie-in with NATO story, move base from Germany to Iraq. Think Risk (the board game).

WashJeff on June 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Get ready for some fireworks on the Left if Leon Panetta’s prediction comes true.

Nahh… It’s awesome when Obama does it.

tetriskid on June 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM

You know, to be honest, there are only about 4-5 adults in the whole obama admin, and I think Leon is one of those 4-5.

ConservativePartyNow on June 10, 2011 at 11:41 AM

It appears panetta got the same look that bho gave Bibi when Bibi was eating bho’s lunch!
L

letget on June 10, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Time for another Gutsy call Mr. President.

sammypants on June 10, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Any chance of the Iraqis assuming a LOT more of the COST associated with this? It is a worthy cause and one I support, but enough of us shouldering the world’s burdens. We are BROKE!

indypat on June 10, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Sure… if the Iraqis bankroll the ongoing presence.

lexhamfox on June 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

that’s likely to produce the kind of change for which Obama hadn’t planned…

I think the stay-at-home vote will be much smaller than we might hope, given the likely state of things in 2012.

After all, there will be a Republican running, and we can’t have that, can we? I predict the highest percentage of nose-holding voting in American history.

Even more than for McCain in ’08.

eeyore on June 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

“Days, not decades,” he said in 2008.

For a guy who is supposedly really smart, he can’t manage to see two inches past his own nose.

beatcanvas on June 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

If American troops stay in Iraq, though, the Left will pitch an absolute fit.

Not likely. They haven’t on the other 1000 broken Obama promises.

NoDonkey on June 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Shoe, other foot, etc.

Governing is a lot harder than CAMPAIGNING, isn’t it, Barry? Aren’t you like, o-for-15 in related campaign promises… e.g. pulling out of Iraq, closing Gitmo, etc?

VastRightWingConspirator on June 10, 2011 at 11:45 AM

If American troops stay in Iraq, though, the Left will pitch an absolute fit.

Just like they, the left, are doing about Libya and Yemen.

WashJeff on June 10, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Obama can’t afford to have Iraq and Afghanistan both falling apart in the middle of the 2012 election, and the left has no place to go and have long showed the ability to work themselves up into outrageous outrage about any Republican candidate, especially at the presidential level. So Obama keeps most of the troops in Iraq, and might do a bit more withdrawal from Afghanistan as long as the fear of damaging images from the region is worse than the fear of a serious primary challenger.

jon1979 on June 10, 2011 at 11:48 AM

If American troops stay in Iraq, though, the Left will pitch an absolute fit.

They’ll make some tiny noises on the usual lefty blogs, but do you really think that we are going to be seeing Code Pink, ANSWR, Cindy Sheehan, and various sundry leftists and Marxists out there burning effigies of Obama, with countless references to Hitler and Nazis?

Not a chance.

simkeith on June 10, 2011 at 11:48 AM

My first impulse is to tell Panetta to just say “NO”. But conditions in Iran being what they are, we might bargain for a permanent base there:

Tie-in with NATO story, move base from Germany to Iraq. Think Risk (the board game).

WashJeff on June 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Then cut Afghanistan loose.

cartooner on June 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are about 1,000 al-Qaida insurgents in Iraq and the situation is fragile.

1,000 insurgents are holding a country of 31 million hostage?

Really?

BallisticBob on June 10, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Peace Prize!

Kenosha Kid on June 10, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Good thing Gitmo is closed.

John the Libertarian on June 10, 2011 at 11:56 AM

If American troops stay in Iraq, though, the Left will pitch an absolute fit.

Hell, I just finished 30 years in the Navy, And I am pitching a fit… Thanks, PBHO, AGAIN…

Khun Joe on June 10, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Seems like 545 people are holding this country hostage.

countrybumpkin on June 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

You know, to be honest, there are only about 4-5 adults in the whole obama admin, and I think Leon is one of those 4-5.

ConservativePartyNow on June 10, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Questionable associations though: What on Earth Was Leon Panetta Doing Palling Around With a Spy-Linked Communist?

slickwillie2001 on June 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Then cut Afghanistan loose.

cartooner on June 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM

My gut instinct, without any intelligence info to work from, would be to create a large US base in Afghanistan as a forward base to keep the miscretants on the defensive and let the population of Afghanistan figure it out for themselves. There is a 1000 years of evidence that they never will.

WashJeff on June 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

They told me if I voted McCain, we would never get out of Iraq.

A Balrog of Morgoth on June 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Threadwinner!

Tim Zank on June 10, 2011 at 12:03 PM

As a side note,I was told we went into Iraq strictly for oil.I heard it from the MSM everyday.Where is all of the oil at?Our gas should be around a dollar a gallon with all of that Iraqi oil.

docflash on June 10, 2011 at 12:09 PM

slickwillie2001 on June 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Hmmm. Did not know that. I retract what I said earlier.

ConservativePartyNow on June 10, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Bahahahaha. How can you not find this hilarious?
BO, the savior and darling of the left, was going to bring the troops home, part the seas and bring peace to the earth.
We’re in 2 more warring countries and BO likes golf.
All the Republicans need is a candidate who can articulate the obvious. Simply for the simpletons.

ORconservative on June 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM

…sundry leftists and Marxists out there burning effigies of Obama, with countless references to Hitler and Nazis?

Not a chance.

simkeith on June 10, 2011 at 11:48 AM

That would be a federal hate crime, racist! /s

ROCnPhilly on June 10, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Depends on reality … funny how that works, eh Bar?

Conditions on the ground. If we leave too soon the entire operation will be for nothing and all those troops who died will have been in vein. They deserve better than partisan bickering.

Tony737 on June 10, 2011 at 12:25 PM

They told me if I voted McCain, we would never get out of Iraq.

A Balrog of Morgoth on June 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Here’s an even older one:

They told me that if I voted for Goldwater, taxes would go up and the war in Vietnam would be escalated. But I wouldn’t listen. I voted for Goldwater, and sure enough…

Owen Glendower on June 10, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Fine. Go bargain with them. Tell them the free ride’s over, and they need to sit on their crazies a little better.

mojo on June 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Thank you President Obama.
 
crr6 on May 1, 2011 at 10:45 PM

rogerb on June 10, 2011 at 12:41 PM

He is the DOTUS…..

……spread American military out in military adventures in 4 seperate countries with open ended obligations?

Wonderful.

PappyD61 on June 10, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Dear Iraq,
About that OPEC vote….

Enclosed please find our bill. Thanks and good luck, sincerely,
the Receivers of the US of A

james23 on June 10, 2011 at 12:48 PM

I agree with tetriskid:

It’s awesome when Obama does it.

My pacifist friends tell me The One is fighting the war on terror and isn’t that what us neocons wanted all along?

Mr_Magoo on June 10, 2011 at 12:54 PM

My pacifist friends tell me The One is fighting the war on terror and isn’t that what us neocons wanted all along?
Mr_Magoo on June 10, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Which means that their original interpretation of Bush’s War on Terror as Blood for Oil now reverts back and becomes The One’s War on Terror. Pretzel logic!

Mr_Magoo on June 10, 2011 at 1:10 PM

PAGING CYNTHIA SHEEHAN….PAGING CYNTHIA SHEEHAN….CYNTHIA SHEEHAN PLEASE PICK UP THE NEAREST COURTESY PHONE….PAGING CYNTHIA SHEEHAN…..

BobMbx on June 10, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Thank you President Obama.

crr6 on May 1, 2011 at 10:45 PM

rogerb on June 10, 2011 at 12:41 PM

“Absolutely.”

Del Dolemonte on June 10, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Weird………….

Where are all the “anti-war” folks and their demonstrations against our “occupation” of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Why are these wars still going on? Wasn’t “The One” supposed to end them? Isn’t that what he ran on?

Where is all the Hope & Change?

Opposite Day on June 10, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Democrats responded maturely with a claim that McCain wanted to stay in Iraq for 100 years of war.

That’s basically what McCain said.

Obama reiterated his promise to pull American troops fully out of Iraq within 16 months.

Obama lies. Other earth shaking news – water wet.

HalJordan on June 10, 2011 at 2:41 PM