Troop Withdrawals from Iraq To Be Recommended… By 2008 (Just In Time for Elections)

Brian Zick

Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks for WaPo report on the troop withdrawal recommendations that will be forthcoming from James Baker and the Iraq Study Group. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday. (…) The call to pull out combat brigades by early 2008 would be more a conditional goal than a firm timetable, predicated on the assumption that circumstances on the ground would permit it, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the commission's report will not be released until next week. But panel members concluded that it is vital to set a target to put pressure on Iraqi leaders to do more to assume responsibility for the security of their country. (…) The choice of early 2008 as a goal could also, intentionally or not, change the nature of the debate over the war at the height of the U.S. presidential primary season. If the commission's plan is successful, the war might recede as an issue, as many strategists in both parties hope. But if U.S. commanders do not meet that goal, or if they do but violence only escalates, it may inflame the struggles for both parties' nominations. Baker isn't doing this to try and save Bush's ass as a favor to Bush Daddy, he's doing this to try and save the whole damn GOP from the fatal consequences of W's megalomania. Prominent Democrats - as noted in the article - have voiced cautious optimism about the recommendations, because they think getting out of Iraq is in the best interests of the United States. It's not just a little ironic that the rescue of the Republican Party coincides with recommendations urged by Democrats. Bush has, of course, already expressed intense resistance. However, it remains to be seen if the majority of the GOP will insist on being as stupid and self-destructive, whether Republicans will choose to support their president or side with the Democrats against him.

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