Obama's Plan for Iraq

If Washington is a zero-sum town, then conservatives should be pleased with President Obama's plan to leave Iraq. Liberal opponents of the war such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer expressed concern with Obama's plan to leave 35,000 to 50,000 noncombat troops in Iraq after August 2010, withdrawing all only by the end of 2011. But Reid's displeasure is not the measure of good policy or sound military strategy. And the real question that the plan elicits is: What's the strategy? Wars, after all, do not end; they are won or lost. Understanding that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good, as the president rightly suggested, it is still reasonable to question whether the war will be won by August 2010. And will the residual force tasked with counterterrorism, training and force protection have accomplished its mission by the end of 2011? There are substantial challenges ahead in Iraq, and pockets such as Kirkuk and Mosul remain flash points of conflict that cause genuine disquiet among military leaders on the ground. There will come a time when most U.S. forces can leave Iraq, certain that Iraq is "sovereign, stable, and self-reliant [and] provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists."

But isn't our aim to ensure that we meet that goal, and secure genuine long-term partnership, rather than hewing to an arbitrary timetable that puts politics first and leadership second?

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI.

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About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

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