Ending the War in Iraq
I see that Elizabeth Bumiller, writing in the New York Times
Even though the agreement with the Iraqi government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June, military planners are now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed “trainers” and “advisers” in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else.
“Trainers sometimes do get shot at, and they do sometimes have to shoot back,” said John A. Nagl, a retired lieutenant colonel who is one of the authors of the Army’s new counterinsurgency field manual.
The issue is a difficult one for Mr. Obama, whose campaign pledge to “end the war” ignited his supporters and helped catapult him into the White House. But as Mr. Obama has begun meeting with his new military advisers — the top two, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are holdovers from the Bush administration — it has become clear that his definition of ending the war means leaving behind many thousands of American troops.
has reached the conclusion that I reached nearly a year ago: that now President-Elect Obama’s statements on ending the war in Iraq were self-contradicting. On the one hand he spoke of removing combat troops but on the other he spoke of continuing to pursue objectives, e.g. training, going after terrorists, that could only be achieved with combat troops. It made sense politically but little sense logistically.
You square the circle by changing the names. Even having ended the war in Iraq we’re likely to have no fewer than 30,000 and as many as 80,000 U. S. soldiers in Iraq for the foreseeable future. While still painful, particularly to the families of our troops stationed in Iraq, since Iraq has vanished from our front pages, except for rare cases like the shoe-throwing incident, staying in Iraq at that level is likely to remain politically possible. This month the the number of deaths among U. S. forces is proceeding at the lowest rate since the 2003 invasion, one third what it was a year ago, less than one tenth of what it was in 2006.