Obama, just returning from his trip to the Middle East and Europe, said recently that he was told by Iraqi leaders that nation does not want an open-ended presence of U.S. combat forces and that now is an appropriate time to start planning for a reorganization of troops in Iraq. He also noted that the war costs about $10 billion a month, which could be used to shore up the U.S. economy.
Several interesting points here. Everyone, including Mr. Obama, is assuming an open-ended presence in Iraq in the form of a residual force. How big that force is, where it is based, and what its mission will be are open questions but everyone on the US side is planning to leave a residual force in or near Iraq.
That the Iraqi leaders think now is the “time to start planning a reorganization of troops in Iraq” is a direct result of surge. The 16 month time frame that Mr. Obama talks about today is significantly different that the one he originally proposed, which was intended to put pressure on the Iraqis. In fact, what Mr. Obama does not mention is that Iraqi leadership is actually beginning to put some pressure on the US to plan on leaving completely.
Lastly, given that Mr. Obama wants to shift the military focus to Afghanistan, increasing troop strengths there and possibly expanding military operations to pursue al Qaeda and Taliban into Pakistan, I have to wonder just exactly how much of that $10 billion a month would actually get spent on shoring up the U.S. economy.
[posted with ecto]