In today's New York Times, Barack Obama pens an op-ed about his plan for troop redeployment in Iraq:We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq's stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq's refugees. This comes after weeks of accusations that Obama has reversed policy on Iraq. The plan in today's op-ed is remarkably similar to Obama's Iraq War De-escalation Act, from way back in January 2007. That plan, according to the Washington Post in January 2007, would……begin a troop withdrawal no later than May 1, 2007, but it includes several caveats that could forestall a clean break:It would leave a limited number of troops in place to conduct counterterrorism activities and train Iraqi forces. And the withdrawal could be temporarily suspended if the Iraqi government meets a series of benchmarks laid out by the Bush administration. That list includes a reduction in sectarian violence; the equitable distribution of oil revenue; government reforms; and democratic, Iraqi-driven reconstruction and economic development efforts. Obama's proposal also would reverse Bush's troop-increase plan. During those important Senate proceedings on the Iraq War early last year, John McCain was noticeably absent.
Dan Dineen, a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, is Deputy Publisher of In These Times.