Out of Iraq
By Al Giordano
Another day, another promise kept...
Today, I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end...
Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.
Some bloggers screamed for half of 2007 and most of 2008: What about "residual forces"? Aren't we going to be stuck with permanent military bases there for the next gazillion years? Why won't candidate Obama commit to no residual troops? Why won't all of you join us in "supporting" Bill Richardson instead?
As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.
Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
Candidate Obama - despite the now disproved claims of the aforementioned (and videotaped) bloggers - never said he would leave troops in Iraq indefinitely. (There's a big difference between poker and the kind of interest-group driven tiddlywinks that some bloggers seem to mistake for politics.) And his early opposition to the war before it started was a clear tip off to voters of common sense everywhere that this guy was different than the Johnny-come-lately politicians who later found religion on the very war that they had authorized.
Let's review what we were told during the campaign - in that video ad - from some corners of "teh blogz":
Matt Stoller (OpenLeft): "Obama... support(s) leaving thousands of thousands, even tens of thousands of troops behind."
Chris Bowers (OpenLeft): "Bill Richardson is the only major candidate who will bring every soldier home."
Christina Siun O'Connell (FireDogLake): "Bill Richardson is the only one who would actually end the war."
That effort could not, sincerely, have been about boosting Richardson's quixotic candidacy at the time (indeed, two of the three admitted openly that their appearance on that Richardson campaign video didn't constitute an endorsement of Richardson). It was, rather, a blatant and transparent (and failed) attempt to derail the only viable alternative to front-running Senator Clinton precisely at the hour - autumn 2007 - when Obama was emerging as the anti-war candidate. I found that ad fundamentally dishonest then and nothing has changed my view of it - or erased my elephantine memory of it - since.
One would hope that people would be embarrassed enough to learn from their own errors in judgment to shift their failed and illusory concepts of "blogger pressure politics" (which some can't seem to distinguish from "look-at-me-ism"). But unfortunately, making self adjustments based on one's own errors is a rare trait, as seldom an occurrence among blogger-activists as it is among commercial media reporters.
In the YouTube era, there is more accountability for bloggers and traditional media reporters alike. Hurrah!
And, more importantly, get used to saying this in the coming months: Welcome home troops!
Related Update: The text of a memorandum signed today by the President:
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
SUBJECT: Transfer of Detainee to Control of the Attorney General
Based on the information available to me, including the memorandum from the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General dated February 26, 2009, and the joint recommendation contained therein, I hereby determine that it is in the interest of the United States that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri be released from detention by the Secretary of Defense and transferred to the control of the Attorney General for the purpose of criminal proceedings against him.
Accordingly, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby direct you to transfer Mr. al-Marri to the control of the Attorney General upon the Attorney General's request. This memorandum supersedes the Presidential directive of June 23, 2003, to the Secretary of Defense, which ordered the detention of Mr. al-Marri as an enemy combatant. Upon Mr. al-Marri's transfer to the control of the Attorney General, the authority to detain Mr. al-Marri provided to the Secretary of Defense in the June 23, 2003, order shall cease.
Due process. What a concept.
Update II: Out of fairness to Chris Bowers (who I personally like even when we disagree), he's doing a valiant job today trying to explain this big news to a couple of Eeyore's in his comments section, the usual suspects who seem to not want this to be true because it would prove their previous Chicken Little-ing to have been wrong. Clearly, Chris is head and shoulders above them and ahead of the curve on them.