View Full Version : Obama Wants To Leave 50,000 American Troops In Iraq After Withdrawal

02-26-2009, 11:09 PM
Exclusive: White House to host members of Congress to build support for keeping 50,000 in Iraq


Rachel Oswald
Published: Thursday February 26, 2009

President Obama took steps today to bolster support for his as yet unofficially announced troop withdrawal plan that would leave up to 50,000 troops in Iraq by inviting a small group of Congressional leaders over to the White House for a Thursday briefing.

A senior Congressional aide told Raw Story that the members of Congress would be informed of "the totality of his plans" prior to Obama's speech on Iraq tomorrow and would be briefed this afternoon. The staffer declined to identify specific members, having not been authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

With the news that the president will likely propose leaving up to 50,000 observer troops in Iraq past the withdrawal of all other American forces, some members of Congress are still making up their minds about the plan, while others, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have questioned the prudence of maintaining such a large American force.

In a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, Pelosi spoke disapprovingly of the high troop number (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Pelosi_doesnt_see_justification_for_leaving_0226.h tml).

"I don't know what the justification is for the presence of 50,000 troops in Iraq," Pelosi said. "I do think that there's a need for some. But I don't think that all of them have to be in country. They can be platformed outside. ... I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000 ... 15 or 20,000."

Prominent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) also appeared only conditionally supportive of Obama's plan in a statement Thursday.

"After years of failed Iraq policies, I am pleased by reports that President Obama plans to significantly reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by August 2010," Feingold said in a statement issued moments ago. "Our presence in Iraq has cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives, overburdened our military, fueled anti-Americanism and distracted us from the global threat posed by al Qaeda. I am concerned, however, by reports that tens of thousands of U.S. troops may remain in Iraq beyond August 2010. I question whether such a large force is needed to combat any al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq or whether it will contribute to stability in the region."

Others are reserving judgment.

"I trust that the president carefully considered the recommendations of his military commanders," Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said in comments provided to Raw Story. "If they firmly believe that a withdrawal of most combat troops within 19 months is prudent, then I could support that decision."

"However, I have not heard from them in detail on this issue, so I can't comment on that specific recommendation," Chambliss added. "My position has always been that we should not stay in Iraq a day longer than necessary, but we should stay until the Iraqi government can effectively provide for the safety, security and well-being of its people without a large U.S. presence."

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the meeting would take place on Wednesday. It is actually scheduled for today.

Kevin Fenton
02-27-2009, 04:11 AM
Keeping 50,000 troops in Iraq is not withdrawal. If the Iraqis thought they were going to get rid of the US troops at some point soon, then this has disabused them of that notion.

02-27-2009, 09:03 AM
It seems Obama is making sure we DO have permanent military bases in Iraq.

There was a time when BushCo was denying that a permanent military presence in Iraq was their objective. Instead, they referred to it as an “enduring” military presence.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19619.htm (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19619.htm)

“Despite recent acknowledgements from the likes of Alan Greenspan, Gen. John Abizaid, and others that oil and permanent (or, if you prefer, “enduring”) military bases were among the main objectives, Frontline avoided any real discussion of such delicate factors.”

02-27-2009, 09:43 AM
Combat Forces May Remain In Iraq Long Term
Obama Set To Announce Withdrawal Plan, But Residual Force Will Include Fighting Troops



(CBS/AP) Some of the U.S. forces likely to remain in Iraq after President Barack Obama fulfills his pledge to withdraw combat troops would still have a combat role fighting suspected terrorists, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

In his speech to Congress last night, Obama reiterated a frequent campaign promise to saying he will "soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war."

That announcement could come as early as Friday. Mr. Obama will travel that day to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he is expected to lay out his timetable for withdrawal, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

Mr. Obama's compromise withdrawal plan may also leave behind as many as 50,000 troops for cleanup and protection operations.

Although most of the fighting forces would be withdrawn in the next 18 months, some of those units could be in Iraq for years to come. An agreement forged by the Bush administration with Iraqi officials requires removal of all U.S. forces by 2012.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that a holdover, or "residual," force would number in the tens of thousands.

His spokesman said Wednesday that assuming there is such a force, it would have three primary functions: Training and helping Iraqi forces; protecting Americans and U.S. assets in Iraq and limited counterterrorism operations in which Iraqi forces would take the lead.

"I think a limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. "By and large you're talking about people who we would classify as enablers, support troops."

Obama campaigned on ending the Iraq war, and pledged to do so in 16 months. The withdrawal timetable he is expected to approve would stretch over 19 months, counting from Inauguration Day. That means more than 100,000 troops would leave over the coming 18 months.

The pullout would free up troops and resources for the war in Afghanistan, where Obama has said the threat to national security remains high.

"We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war," Obama said in his address to Congress on Tuesday.

Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and others met with Obama at the White House on Wednesday. There was no announcement afterward.

"The president has not made a final decision about our force structure in Iraq going forward," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday. "I don't think it would be a surprise, though, to anybody in this room that the president since his first full day in office has been working toward a solution that would responsibly draw down our troops in Iraq."

Morrell said he anticipates an announcement this week.

The role and makeup of residual forces has been unclear throughout last year's negotiations between the United States and Iraq, and during Obama's planning for an exit strategy.

Plans became only slightly clearer Wednesday. Morrell said many troops would be long-term advisers in such areas as intelligence, or would help the Iraqi military fill in gaps in equipment such as helicopters.

Although he said Iraq would still be considered a "war zone," Morrell said most remaining forces would not do anything that resembles fighting.

"But just because these troops would carry a sidearm, as all U.S. troops do in theater, that should not be confused with them having a combat mission," Morrell said.

"For example, U.S. personnel assigned to the Ministry of Finance may have a sidearm, but I doubt they'd consider themselves a combat force, and certainly wouldn't be equipped in that fashion to perform combat operations."

02-27-2009, 09:15 PM
I saw a report tonight that said he expects the 50,000 to be out of Iraq by no later than the end of 2011.

02-27-2009, 10:19 PM
Obama deferred to military's advice on Iraq: Gates



President Barack Obama heeded the US military's advice in deciding to postpone by three months the pullout of most US troops from Iraq beyond a promised 16-month deadline, his defense secretary said Friday.

Obama chose to slow the pace of withdrawal after hearing the views of the commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief told reporters.

"Frankly, this is where both the chairman and I thought this should come out," Gates said in a telephone conference.

"And it was a very thorough, deliberative process where a lot of different options and a lot of different analysis were examined," he said.

Military commanders in Iraq, "particularly General Odierno," expressed concern that pulling out under the 16-month timeline by May 2010 could leave US forces short-handed at a sensitive time after crucial national elections in December, he said.

"The real concern has been, how do we get through this year and all of the elections that will take place, beginning with the district and sub-district elections early in the summer, the national elections at the end of the year, and have a period of adjustment after those national elections to make sure people are accepting the results," Gates said.

The 19-month plan "provides the maximum available force for General Odierno during that sensitive period," he said.

Pulling out combat troops by May "really would present some significant logistical and security issues."

"And so the extra two months or so was considered to be important."

Gates spoke from a US Marine Corps base in North Carolina where Obama earlier announced he will withdraw most US troops and end combat operations by the end of August 2010.

Obama said the remaining force of up to 50,000 would take on a new mission of training, equipping and advising Iraqi security forces, to protect US civilian personnel in Iraq, and to carry out counter-terrorism operations on its own and jointly with the Iraqi forces.

Gates said the United States should have plans in case Iraq chooses to amend an agreement that requires all US troops to leave by the end of 2011.

"My own view would be that we should be prepared to have some very modest-sized presence for training and helping them with their new equipment and providing, perhaps, intelligence support and so on," he said.

"The Iraqis have not said anything about that at this point, so it remains to be seen whether they will take an initiative."

02-28-2009, 09:32 AM
Kucinich hits Iraq withdrawal: 'You can't be in and out'


Stephen C. Webster
Published: Friday February 27, 2009

It wasn't even one year ago when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and members of his political campaign said now-President Barack Obama (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24022216-26397,00.html) "seems to think losing a war will help him win an election."

Which is what makes this week's announcement of -- and the fallout from -- President Obama's plan to withdrawal troops from Iraq so surprising. It isn't the opposition party Obama must now win over: It's his own political allies.

Sen. McCain and top Republican leaders actually support the Democratic administration's plan, while some top Democrats have openly criticized it. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), himself a former presidential candidate, hit back Friday against a portion of Obama's plan which would leave 35-50,000 "observer" soldiers in the country.

"You can't be in and out at the same time," said Kucinich in a media advisory.

"America must determine at some point to end the occupation, close the bases and bring the troops home," he said. "We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history where war was waged under false pretense against an innocent people. Taking troops out of Iraq should not mean more troops available for deployment in other operations.

"In February of 2007 I presented H.R. 1234, legislation that would end the war in Iraq, and the process I outlined is still necessary. We should immediately bring home American service members and contractors, convene a regional conference to prepare an international peace-keeping force and accelerate Iraq-driven reconstruction."

"As a candidate for President, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we’ve made and protect our troops," Obama said on Friday (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Obama_speaks_about_Iraq_withdrawal_plans_0227.html ). "Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months."

Obama added, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."

Congressman Kucinich has been a leading opponent of the Iraq war policy even well before many of his Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives came to agree with his position.

03-02-2009, 10:12 AM
U.S. influence in Iraq far from over


Last Updated: 1st March 2009, 2:39am

Barack Obama won the votes of many Americans by promising to swiftly end the Iraq War and bring U.S. troops home. He denounced George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq as a "violation of international law."

So will U.S. troops leave Iraq? Will those responsible for this trumped-up war face justice?

No, on both counts.

President Obama says U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq by August 2010. However, the U.S. military occupation will not end. What we are seeing is a public relations shell game.

The U.S. has 142,000 soldiers and nearly 100,000 mercenaries occupying Iraq. Obama's plan calls for withdrawing the larger portion of the U.S. garrison but leaving 50,000-60,000 troops in Iraq.

To get around his promise to withdraw all "combat" troops, the president and his advisers are rebranding the stay-behind garrison as "training troops, protection for American interests, and counterterrorism forces."

At a time when the U.S. is bankrupt and faces a $1.75 trillion deficit, the Pentagon's gargantuan $664 billion budget (50% of total global military spending) will grow in 2009 and 2010 by another $200 billion to pay for the occupation of Iraq and Obama's expanded war in Afghanistan. Throw in another $40 billion to $50 billion for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Obama insists the U.S. will withdraw from Iraq. But his words are belied by the Pentagon, which continues to expand bases in Iraq, including Balad and Al-Asad, with 4,400-metre runways for heavy bombers and transports.

They are key links in the U.S. Air Force's new air bridge that extends from Germany to Bulgaria and Romania, Iraq and the Gulf, then onward to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Besides Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone and U.S. embassy (the world's largest), the Pentagon reportedly wants to retain 58 permanent bases in Iraq (by comparison, there are 36 in South Korea), total control of its air space and immunity from Iraqi law for all U.S. troops.

The U.S. also will retain major bases in neighbouring Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Diego Garcia. U.S. oil companies are moving in to exploit Iraq's vast energy reserves, the Mideast's second largest after Saudi Arabia.

U.S. troop levels will remain high during Iraq's December elections to ensure "security," according to the Pentagon. In other words, ensuring the U.S.-selected regime "wins" the vote. Iraqi parties, notably Baath, opposing the U.S. occupation, are banned from running. Many Iraqis believe the U.S. will never leave their nation.

In short, contrary to all Obama's high-blown rhetoric about pulling out of Iraq, Washington clearly intends it will remain a U.S. military, political and economic protectorate. Washington is following exactly the same control model the British Empire used to rule Iraq, and exploit its oil: Install a figurehead ruler, keep him in power using a "native" army (read today's Iraqis army and police). RAF units based in Iraq (read U.S. air bases) bomb any rebellious areas. Smaller British ground units based in non-urban areas are on call to put down attempted coups against the king. The U.S. plan for Iraq is identical.

Obama made clear that officials responsible for the Iraq war, torture, kidnapping or assassination will not be prosecuted. The theft of over $50 billion in U.S. "reconstruction" funds sent to Iraq is being hushed up.

By contrast, Britons are demanding release of cabinet documents leading to war that are likely to expose Tony Blair's lies and illegalities.

There is no corresponding call for justice in the United States. Obama tells the public, let bygones be bygones. Unless, of course, it's Osama bin Laden.

Between 600,000 and one million Iraqis died as a result of President George W. Bush's aggression, which cost nearly $1 trillion and some 4,500 U.S. dead. Four million Iraqis remain refugees. The U.S. holds over 20,000 Iraqi political prisoners.

Mr. President, this is not a bygone. It's a historic crime that demands justice. Keep your word about withdrawing from Iraq. Enough with the Bush doubletalk.