Panetta: Yeah, we’re going to stay in Iraq

posted at 8:44 am on August 20, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Do you know what’s even more valuable to a White House than a Friday afternoon news dump that avoids that evening’s media cycle?  A Friday afternoon news dump that takes place while most of the White House press corps is either covering a presidential vacation or on one of its own.  Fortunately for Barack Obama, he had just that opportunity yesterday to have Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announce that Obama would break one of his core campaign promises and keep troops in Iraq for at least another year:

The word from Panetta, during an interview with Stars & Stripes, was the first official indication that any of the 46,000 American troops will remain in Iraq beyond the country’s Dec. 31 deadline for U.S. forces to leave. The U.S. and Iraq reached a security agreement in 2008 that the entire American military would be out of the country by the end of 2011.

“My view is that they finally did say, ‘Yes,’” Panetta told the military’s official newspaper. He told the paper he urged the Iraqis six weeks ago to “damn it, make a decision” about allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country into 2012.

But was the prospect of a perfect news hole so attractive that Panetta jumped the gun?

But shortly after Panetta’s interview hit the Internet, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Agence-France Presse that no deal is in place.

“We have not yet agreed on the issue of keeping training forces,” spokesman Ali Mussawi said. “The negotiations are ongoing, and these negotiations have not been finalized.”

Why would Panetta tell Stars & Stripes about a deal with Iraq that hadn’t been finalized?  It’s impossible to overstate the delicate nature of negotiations about the presence of American troops in Iraqi politics.  The Iranian-backed Moqtada al-Sadr could start a civil war over it unless the issue is handled properly, and it’s not as though this country is thrilled about the idea of extending our presence in Iraq, either.  Even those of us who support the idea do so out of a realistic view of the threat Iran poses to Iraq and the rest of the region, not because we think it would be a fun environment for our sons and daughters and a great place to burn money we don’t really have.

The Obama administration’s push to keep troops in Iraq hasn’t exactly been a secret.  Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, spoke openly about Obama’s intent to stay in place four months ago, and the Iraqis finally took the bait in May and began negotiations.  By June, Panetta told Congress that Iraq would make a formal request for the US to extend its presence and rewrite the SOFA, but when no invitation had been received by this month, the US started ramping up the pressure.  For an administration that not only promised to get out of Iraq but has also bragged about keeping its promise to do so, they certainly seem pretty anxious to reverse themselves — but perhaps anxious that few people notice it as well.

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Obviously, Øbama will do whatever it takes to avoid the appearance of losing Iraq before the election.

petefrt on August 20, 2011 at 8:53 AM

I was told that If I voted for McCain, we’d still be in Iraqin 2012, and they were right.

simkeith on August 20, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Life sure was easier when you could just stand on the sidelines and snark at Bush about his “unjust” Iraqi war, wasn’t it Barry?

AZCoyote on August 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM

I don’t understand the big rush to leave Iraq.
What iis the upside ?
Is it to save money or something….?
Is it because S-O-L-D-I-E-R-S are in harm’s way ?
Is it because the Iraqi govt really doesn’t want us there ?

Unless we are going to deactivate those units and decommission all the naval and air support I believe we will still have to pay for the food, housing, maintenance and training of all those resources.

Everyone there is a volunteer and pretty much knew where they would go if they enlisted.

If anyone thinks that Iraq can’t fall back into a civil war instigated by Iran and little mookie then ask yourself who may be funding and training insurgents in Afghanistan.

If there is anywhere in the world where a military presence is more necessary than the Middle East then someone please tell me where.

NeoKong on August 20, 2011 at 9:05 AM

He’ll use a Libyan triumph to neutralize the sting and reinforce his street creds as a kick ass war leader.

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Yes, it’s OT, but that stupid pop-up with no X to close it will drive folks away from your site, Ed, including me.
What kind of fool would respond positively to that arrogance?
“Oh, a pop-up that’s blocking me from seeing the site! I think I’ll buy whatever they’re selling!”
*facepalm*

itsnotaboutme on August 20, 2011 at 9:15 AM

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Not sure how good that “Libyan triumph” is going to look once the U.S. public gets a look at the thugs that will replace Quadaffi.

AZCoyote on August 20, 2011 at 9:16 AM

NeoKong on August 20, 2011 at 9:05 AM

There is some added cost of moving the supplies to Iraq, and the added cost of combat pay, but, yeah, passivists and isolationists tend to inflate the cost by including costs that would be incurred anyway.

Count to 10 on August 20, 2011 at 9:16 AM

He’ll use a Libyan triumph to neutralize the sting and reinforce his street creds as a kick ass war leader.

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:06 AM

You mean the military activity that he more or less entered by default?

Count to 10 on August 20, 2011 at 9:18 AM

I was told that If I voted for McCain, we’d still be in Iraqin 2012, and they were right.

simkeith on August 20, 2011 at 8:54 AM

I was listening to the radio driving yesterday. His most loyal don’t care. “He deserves this vacation!” “Bush ruined the economy.” and of course “Bush started the wars.”

Nevermind that he talked like correcting each and every little single thing was going to a snap for the Messiah Genius.

He has accomplished nothing except explode the budget to our demise. He has only dolled out other people’s money to them. And for those idiots, I guess that’s enough.

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 9:18 AM

He’ll use a Libyan triumph to neutralize the sting and reinforce his street creds as a kick ass war leader.

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:06 AM

You mean the military activity that he more or less entered by default?

Count to 10 on August 20, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Sorry to butt in on your exchange but I don’t see Libya as turning out so great for O’Burkel. Hawk is betting if and after Tripoli falls, it’ll get even more bloody and tribal ugly. We haven’t seen the worst that can happen there yet.

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Hawk is betting if and after Tripoli falls, it’ll get even more bloody and tribal ugly. We haven’t seen the worst that can happen there yet.

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Oh. sure, that’s a given. But, Barry will have harvested the fall of Gaddafi
for his re-election campaign by the time all that full horror kicks in. I’m more interested in how they will justify not going to the aid of the proGaddafi forces on humanitarian grounds when the rebels start to slaughter them like trussed chickens.

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:37 AM

itsnotaboutme on August 20, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Don’t go. Just switch to Firefox. Eliminates the hassle. Faster, too.

petefrt on August 20, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Panetta: “Mission Extended”

Paging Cindy Sheehan……..

Speaking of the silent hypocrites, where have all “our” anti-war liberals gone to since Obama took office?

Rovin on August 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM

So now when President P (R) gets sworn in there will once again be a anti-war hiring boom. As now they they had a 80% cut in there numbers with PBO yet doing the same thing as GWB.

tjexcite on August 20, 2011 at 10:02 AM

If we leave Iraq now, they’ll devolve into civil war. If we leave Iraq in a thousand years, they’ll devolve into civil war.

We should have left long ago.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Why doesn’t Snaggletooth Al Sadr fall down the same well as the 12th Imam?

Iran needs a message now and then.

Muktada taking a dirt nap would be one.

At least make this extended Iraq folly useful in some small way.

And when do we start receiving a chunk of their oil revenues to pay war reparations for their liberation?

profitsbeard on August 20, 2011 at 10:02 AM

I’m more interested in how they will justify not going to the aid of the proGaddafi forces on humanitarian grounds when the rebels start to slaughter them like trussed chickens.

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:37 AM

They won’t. Because for all of their peace wailing, libs are the most hypocritical creatures on the Earth in the use of the military. Note the fantasy film “JFK”. Stone tried to assert JFK was great and made enemies for the stand against Cuba and former Soviet Union, but was trying to avoid involvement in Viet Nam. (my azz) Stone pushed a single memo in his film as proof positive JFK shouldn’t be responsible for the war in Southeast Asia.

They want to be abiders of the peace; but if there is any event (like Osama) that they think there’s politcal capital in, they’re the first to smear blood on each other’s face. And the military, they end up dying for political posturing rather than winning battles.

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM

And when do we start receiving a chunk of their oil revenues to pay war reparations for their liberation?

That’s a good question. The Bush administration held that the war in Iraq would pay for itself. Where is all that oil we were supposed to have received.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 10:07 AM

That’s a good question. The Bush administration held that the war in Iraq would pay for itself. Where is all that oil we were supposed to have received.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 10:07 AM

The same place as all the WMD’s he used as boogeymen.

In other words, we ain’t gonna see them.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM

To put it simply, Barry doesn’t want to lose Iraq until after the 2012 elections.

There are priorities, and then there are Obama priorities.

GarandFan on August 20, 2011 at 10:30 AM

One thing to note, Obama has always hedged his promise, saying he would remov3 all combat troops from Iraq. Even back during the 2008 campaign his 16 month removal timeline was about combat troops. Which isn’t what people heard, of course, especially his liberal base.

William Teach on August 20, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Oil for reparations, WMDs, Boogeymen.

Did I fall into a secret tunnel that leads over to Daily Kos?

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Iraq,Iran,Afghanistan,Somalia,Egypt,Tunisia,Libya,Pakistan,Saudi Arabia………..these are not discreet places……they are all parts of a larger entity called Islam…….America is mostly ignorant of Islam and the rest of America rely on Muslims to explain it to them. The odd part is that nothing has been learned in ten years of being f*cked over by them. You’re still sucking their balls and kissing their feet.

BL@KBIRD on August 20, 2011 at 11:08 AM

He’ll use a Libyan triumph to neutralize the sting and reinforce his street creds as a kick ass war leader.

a capella on August 20, 2011 at 9:06 AM

This. I have no doubt that next summer or fall the Lockerbie bomber will be brought to the US for a show trial. Maybe even an “October Surprise.”

Folks, The One is not stupid when it comes to electoral politics. I would not be surprised is this isn’t why The One changed his tune on Libya.

But wouldn’t it be funny if al-Megrahi actually kicked the bucket before then, hehe.

edshepp on August 20, 2011 at 11:10 AM

To put it simply, Barry doesn’t want to lose Iraq until after the 2012 elections.

There are priorities, and then there are Obama priorities.

GarandFan on August 20, 2011 at 10:30 AM

That’s what I was trying to say. You said it better.

petefrt on August 20, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Oblaimer is a gambler. His tactic is to throw money on the table and sit back while these conflicts rage on and Americans die. He’s gone from playing the critic as a senator to the great war lord with a little help from his friends in the media. The greatest problem facing this nation right now is how many more military personal will die under his blundering and how much more domestic damage can he do in the time he has left? I’m sure the worse it yet to come.

Hening on August 20, 2011 at 11:18 AM

As the wars we are in continue to multiply, I’m beginning to favor isolationism. Heavily.

theCork on August 20, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Even those of us who support the idea do so out of a realistic view of the threat Iran poses to Iraq and the rest of the region, not because we think it would be a fun environment for our sons and daughters and a great place to burn money we don’t really have.

The problem isn’t the money we are spending on these wars but the money we’re spending on entitlement programs.

The spending requirements to keep our entitlement programs afloat make everything else much more difficult to pay for because it requires a larger and larger share of federal money to pay for the entitlement programs. As a result, other government programs get less and less money because its being diverted to the entitlement programs in order keep the ponzi scheme going.

If you want to make our wars affordable (and other essential government programs), entitlement reform/elimination is the only way to go.

Conservative Samizdat on August 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Ya, so…Panetta wants to stay in Afghanistan until 2024 (or longer)

Skandia Recluse on August 20, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Panetta: Yeah, we’re going to stay in Iraq

GOP establishment leaps for joy.

Notorious GOP on August 20, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Gotta make it last one more year so the collapse can’t be blamed on Obama. Either he’ll be reelected by then, or it will be his successors “fault”.

Also, many Arabs are so prideful that one should never assume they’ll do the smart thing. After all, they attacked Israel several times only to have their backsides handed to them each time.

scotash on August 20, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Oil for reparations, WMDs, Boogeymen.

Did I fall into a secret tunnel that leads over to Daily Kos?

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Are you denying that the Bush administration, in its attempt to sell this war, promised the American people that it would be paid for by the Iraqis?

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Oil for reparations, WMDs, Boogeymen.

Did I fall into a secret tunnel that leads over to Daily Kos?

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM

You must have taken a wrong turn at Perception Junction; you’re in Realityville. You take a far right at the junction to get to Neocon-Fantasyland.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 20, 2011 at 3:51 PM

As the wars we are in continue to multiply, I’m beginning to favor isolationism. Heavily.

theCork on August 20, 2011 at 11:38 AM

What you call ‘isolationism’ is what people used to call ‘common sense’. As in, ‘it is common sense that we cannot afford to play world referee forever’.

The popular definition of isolationism is the USA turned into a box turtle, completely withdrawn from everything. As if that would ever happen considering how much our economy depends on cheap plastic goods…

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 20, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Link

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM

You can look it up. I remember it clearly.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 3:59 PM

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM

You can look it up. I remember it clearly.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 3:59 PM

lol, I thought not.

If you ask me if I’m “denying” something; it would normally require you offering “proof” of something. As it is I’m just musing on someone’s speculation.

Again, KOS quality stuff.

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 20, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Do you ever offer anything that makes any sense?

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 4:17 PM

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Your commitment to the GOP is stronger than your commitment to the truth. I understand.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Your commitment to the GOP is stronger than your commitment to the truth. I understand.

Bugler on August 20, 2011 at 4:37 PM

You’re batting zero today. I’m a member of the Conservative Party.

hawkdriver on August 20, 2011 at 4:45 PM

How do people like Panetta get where he is????????????? My daughter could do a better job.

ultracon on August 20, 2011 at 6:03 PM

I see the Paulbots are out in force tonight.(SNICKER) As Sec of Defense Mr. Panetta is doing his job.(Nice to know someone is.)

flackcatcher on August 20, 2011 at 7:56 PM

They told me that we would be staying in Iraq if I voted for McCain. Where are those war protesters?

SC.Charlie on August 21, 2011 at 1:52 PM