2008 February 13 Wednesday
Bush Administration Limiting Troop Withdrawal After Surge

George W. Bush wants to keep lots of troops in Iraq in case John McCain wins election as President of the United States so that McCain will be in a position to continue fighting. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is halting the troop reduction in Iraq at near 130,000 troops remaining.

Meeting with top commanders here, Mr. Gates said that after the departure this summer of the five extra combat brigades sent last year in “the surge” to pacify the Baghdad area, the American command should assess whether further troop reductions would hurt security.

In practical terms, his assertion makes it likely that American troop levels in Iraq will not drop much below 130,000 this year — and certainly not to the 100,000 level advocated by some military officials and analysts worried about the protracted strain on the Army from long deployments in the nearly five-year-old Iraq war.

A McCain-Obama contest will probably feature a big disagreement over Iraq. Will Obama highlight a willingness to withdraw? Will McCain harp on his willingness to keep fighting and force Obama to respond? Which one will see a bigger advantage to be had from drawing attention to their enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm over the Iraq war? How explicitly will they paint their pro or anti war position?

Also, will the insurgency rebound as US troop levels decrease? How bad will the war look to the American public in the fall of 2008?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 February 13 06:07 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate

Bob Badour said at February 13, 2008 7:22 PM:

Okay, so the presidential election is not just boring--it's depressing too.

I suggest the electorate make it political suicide to campaign for continuing kill young american men and women for no point whatsoever.

At the point, the presidency is lost. The only question is "How badly?"

What are you going to do to keep congressional and senatorial feet to the fire?

Ned said at February 14, 2008 10:07 AM:

Although the war is deeply unpopular with most Americans (and recent polls have shown this includes even a majority of Republicans), the issue is still a tough one for the Democrats to capitalize on. If Obama does indeed win the nomination and calls for withdrawal, the Republicans will hammer him as "soft on terror" (anybody recall Obama's middle name?). If Hillary is the nominee and advocates withdrawal, it will be even worse for her, both because she's a woman (the Republicans won't be foolish enough to say this, but many voters will think it) and because she voted initially for the Senate resolution authorizing the war. Since the electorate has never really trusted the Democrats with national security/anti-terrorism issues, the Dems may face an uphill struggle on this one. If there's a major terrorist incident on US soil prior to the election, this year could turn into a disaster for the Democrats.

Wolf-Dog said at February 14, 2008 11:12 PM:

1) Given that the economy is not doing well this year, the incumbent party will most lose.
2) The Democrats are more likely to withdraw not only from Iraq but also from Afghanistan.

After the US withdraws from Iraq, the extremists will fill the vacuum, just as they did in Afghanistan when the Soviet Union (and the United States which helped the Afghan guerrillas defeat the Russians) withdrew from Afghanistan.

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