Impending U.S/British withdrawal from Iraq reportedThe Times of London reported yesterday that a phased pullout from Iraq by American and British forces would begin as soon as a permanent government was installed in Baghdad. This report comes despite repeated denials by U.S. administration sources that a pullout is imminent. The report says that Iraqi officials are apparently aware that some sort of withdrawal is in the works, because members of Iraq’s provisional government are quite concerned about it.
In addition to the Times report yesterday, Lt. Col. Oliver North, on location as an imbedded reporter for Fox News in Ramadi, said yesterday on Sean Hannity’s radio program that he believes American forces could begin withdrawing from Iraq as early as January.
If the reports of a soon-coming withdrawal from Iraq are true, such a pullout has two major consequences, one military and one political:
1. It finally allows America to define what its goals were in this situation and to establish whether those goals have been met. My guess would be that the administration will say that the goal was to put a freely-elected non-Bathist government in control of the country. This is a goal that, at this point, is both laudable and doable. Once it is done, the military can say that its job in Iraq has, for the most part, been completed.
2. It takes the war off the table as a political issue in next year’s (2006) General Election. In terms of raw politics, the Democrats would like to use the war to their advantage to make huge Congressional gains, while the Republicans would like to be rid of the war as fast as possible so that it may be off of the minds of voters before Election Day. If a pullout begins in January, whether it is completed by November or not is irrelevant-it is a big election advantage for the GOP.