Obama Announces Complete Withdrawal from Iraq by End of 2011
"Today I can say our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays," Obama announced Friday. Save for a "normal embassy presence," the White House made clear that the approximately 40,000 troops still in Iraq will be returning home over the next two months.
Patrick Brennan writing on The Corner points out that this announcement comes in spite of a few suggestions from the administration that indicated that several thousand troops would remain into 2012.
In August of this year, in an interview with Stars and Stripes, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that an agreement had been reached with the Iraqi government to keep thousands of troops in Iraq through 2012, to train Iraqi security forces.
This September, when it appeared that only a few thousand troops would remain into 2012, Fox News reported that “senior commanders are said to be livid at the decision. . . . Commanders said they could possibly make that work ‘in extremis,’ in other words, meaning they would be pushing it to make that number work security-wise and manpower-wise.”
Asked whether the plan was indeed to drop levels so dramatically and leave so few troops, press secretary Jay Carney said, “No.”
As recently as Saturday, a Pentagon spokesman, in an interview with the Associated Press, claimed that negotiations to keep more troops into 2012 were still ongoing, and no decision had been reached.
Gary Johnson published a Tweet lauding the troop withdrawal, and Ron Paul will no doubt soon follow suit.