BREAKING: Iraq approves 3-year pact with U.S.

BAGHDAD (Reuters)

Iraq’s cabinet approved a pact on Sunday that will let U.S. troops stay in the country until 2011, setting a final date to end a military presence that began with the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.c

It puts a closing date on a war that has been one of the defining political issues in the United States, the Middle East and around the globe for much of the past decade.

“The total withdrawal will be completed by December 31, 2011. This is not governed by circumstances on the ground. This date is specific and final,” cabinet spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said of the pact, supported by 27 of 28 cabinet members.

This is just the agreement. Actually extricating ourselves from that damaged country without leaving behind more chaos will be one of the greatest challenges our new president will face. But we can all be grateful, the target date has been set, and everything we do now is to work towards that withdrawal.

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  1. #1 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 8:06 am


    I thought you all demanded an immediate and unconditional withdrawal now, not three years from now? Isn’t Obama supposed to take the oath of office then while still on the podium point to George Bush and say “Sargent of Arms, arrest that man!” and then sign the order to immediately withdraw all troops? Are you saying that Obama will be continuing the illegal and unjustified war of aggression and continue the occupation through the first three years of his Presidency? Is this the change you voted for?

  2. #2 by Becky on November 16, 2008 - 8:18 am

    Ken, what made you think I demanded that? I admit it is my dream to hear that “arrest that man” statement. But other than than, I think you are reading something into my opinion that I have not expressed.

  3. #3 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 9:34 am


    When I say “you” I am not really referring to you personally but an aggregate of liberal viewpoints. Kind of what my amendments to Cliff’s list was intended to do.

  4. #4 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 9:53 am

    Ken– Isn’t it true that Republicans said that any date certain for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would be a “surrender date,” and “a death sentence for millions of Iraqis”?

    Note that the Iraqis want our troops out of their country ASAP, and the proposed treaty (which still has to be approved by Iraq’s parliament and the U.S. Senate) only sets a maximum limit of December 31, 2011. Nothing prevents President-elect Obama from going ahead with his plans for a 16-month withdrawal.

  5. #5 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 10:06 am

    Spencer Ackerman:

    “The Bush administration intended the SOFA process to entrench the occupation. Instead it gave the Iraqi government the means to end it. And that’s the best-possible way for the war to end: with the Iraqi government — the one we’ve disingenuously told the world we’re in Iraq to support — showing its political maturation to get us out the day after tomorrow. And out actually means out. The SOFA demands that every last U.S. serviceman is on a plane by December 31, 2011. Obama’s plan for a 30,000-troop residual force? Officially overtaken by events. As I say, the impact of this appears not to have sunken in. The Iraqis have forced an end to the war.”

  6. #6 by Becky on November 16, 2008 - 10:12 am

    It’s starting to sink in now, isn’t it? Another glimmer of hope post-Bush.

  7. #7 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 10:13 am


    It is a dangerous thing to set an exact date to withdraw because it does allow the opposition to simply lay low and wait while arming themselves till the US leaves. Hopefully this timetable also includes terms to get Iraqi security strong enough to control the security of their own country. We all want our troops home but we want them to return with a secure free Iraq without the threat of a terrorist or extreme Islamic takeover. That is how victory is defined.

    Are you going to be just as opposed to the war and call for an immediate withdrawal, regardless of the consequences, under an Obama regime than you have for Bush? What do you do if we are still there even after the three years? Will you hold Obama responsible if the war continues while he is running for a second term? Also what do you think about Obama’s commitment to increase the fighting in Afghanistan? Are you for that or are you like Cindy Sheehan who opposes even that? Is Iraq the “bad war” and Afghanistan the “good war”? Let me know what you think on this issue.

  8. #8 by JFarmer on November 16, 2008 - 10:18 am


    You are confused, angry and disillusioned. I think you need a session with Dr.Phil.

  9. #9 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 10:19 am

    Ken– The opposition of which you speak consists of Iraqis fighting to end the occupation of their country. If our troops leave, that fight is over. Anyway, the Shiite Mahdi Army and a good portion of the Sunni insurgency are already laying low and we’re paying 100,000 insurgents $300 a month in exchange for not shooting at Americans.

    You know what I think about Afghanistan, as I have previously posted my humble opinions. That’s already the third-longest war in our history. U.S. and NATO have to redirect strategy to wrapping it up, which means allowing elements of the Taliban to switch sides and join the government. In the short term, reinforcements are urgently needed to reverse the tide on the battlefield and convince the Taliban that they can’t win by force of arms.

  10. #10 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 10:25 am

    why should the Talaban be convinced when they know by the Iraqi example that they merely must wait out US resolve and then take over again once we leave? No the only way the Taliban will be convinced is when they are decimated. They can never be allowed to regain their former power.

  11. #11 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 10:30 am

    Ken– Take a look at some history books. Invaders have never succeeded in imposing a government on Afghanistan, from Alexander the Great to the USSR. Everybody knows that– except you and a few neocons, apparently. Iraq and Afghanistan have little in common.

    In the Pashtun parts of Afghanistan, there can be no legitimate government without significant Taliban involvement. Former CIA analyst (and bin Laden expert) Michael Scheuer explained this years ago in his books.

  12. #12 by JFarmer on November 16, 2008 - 10:46 am


    I agree re the Taliban. One of Bush’s biggest and most everlasting failures is taking his eye off that ball. Having said that, I notice, as concerns Iraq, you give short or no shrift to the concept that Iraq is a sovereign nation. Iraq, as a nation, wants us the hell out. Who are we to say otherwise?

  13. #13 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 10:55 am


    So you are saying you don’t mind going back to the good old days of mass executions in ball fields, women forced to wear Burkas, destroyed statues and art because it is un-Islamic, and girls not allowed to be educated. That is what the Taliban stands for and that is what they will fight to impose if they are given any say in government.


    I agree with you that once Iraq tells us to get the Hell out then we should get the Hell out. If they do that then they are putting the responsibility upon themselves to guarantee their own security. The question is if things go bad for them will they turn around and beg us to return?

  14. #14 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 11:07 am

    Ken– If you admit that the U.S. and NATO are powerless to impose a different form of government, then what is your plan? Keep killing Afghans indefinitely? How does that help our national security? Are you aware that the outgoing British commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, recently said that the current strategy is “doomed to fail” ?

    Incidentally, some of the same Taliban leaders that you would refuse to negotiate with used to be U.S. allies in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was President. Their religious views are the same now as when the CIA was helping them fight the Soviets.

  15. #15 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 11:48 am


    If the strategy is “doomed to fail” you don’t bug out and leave the people of Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban, but rather you change strategies. We need a surge similar to what we have in Iraq. there was a time when the Iraq strategy was “doomed to fail” too but we are no longer talking about leaving Iraq in defeat but leaving in victory because of the serge.

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 11:54 am

    Ken– You’re delusional. If “victory” has been achieved in Iraq, then tell me, what did we win? How is the USA any safer or more respected in the world? Did we get control of the oil? What about the neocon dream of permanent bases in Iraq, built at enormous expense and now to be abandoned?

    You never answered my question above. Didn’t Republicans say that any date certain for Iraq withdrawal would be a “surrender date”? What would you call December 31, 2011?

    Sorry. You can’t get away with labeling any likely outcome as “victory” to avoid admitting the Bush administration committed the greatest strategic blunder in American history.

  17. #17 by Richard Okelberry on November 16, 2008 - 12:43 pm

    I can’t imagine there is any need to bicker over this anymore. First it is important that the Iraqi’s control their own destiny. If they want us out and it appears their leadership and democracy is not necessarily perfect but stabile, we should go. On our side we have a President-Elect that has promised an immediate end to the hostility, regardless of any 3 year agreement. He should be held by those who supported him to that cause.

    Obama gained initial popularity and eventually defeated Hillary based on his willingness to immediately defund the troops and begin withdrawal. I think everyone should expect as Richard W. does that he will live up to that promise regardless of any timetable. This may not be what is best for Iraq or us but is what we as a nation has committed to in electing Obama.

    If or when he has trouble fulfilling this mandate, I don’t want to hear a single liberal who supported him on this issue making excuses for him. He will be the commander-in-chief. Ultimately it is his decision alone; how long the troops remain past his inauguration. I would fully expect that those who were excited when he pushed a resolution to defund the war, be just as critical of Obama as they were of Bush should he continue for even a moment this “war of aggression.”

    Ken, I hate to say it but Fundamentalist Liberals are now running the show, or soon will be. No amount of reason or logic is going to change theirs or Obama’s mind about the war. Now it’s time for those who supported the efforts of our troops to welcome them home as heroes.

    To help measure the success of the upcoming administration, I will be tracking using a simple algorithm, each promise made by Obama leading to the election in a new section at called the Obama Files. Everyone should feel free to contribute known and documentable campaign promises.

  18. #18 by Ken on November 16, 2008 - 12:46 pm


    To you it was about oil or establishing permanent bases. To us it was about removing a brutal dictator that threatened a vital region including our allies. The war was not about taking control over Iraqi oil fields but rather insuring the free flow of oil. We have already achieved victory in part by removing Saddam Hussein. Where we have blundered is in not keeping the peace after that. The serge has dramatically changed that to where we now can set a goal (any plan to withdraw is only a goal because anything can change between now and then that could scuttle any withdrawal plans) for the US to leave. Permanent bases would be a great benefit because it would keep Iran in check especially if Iran or Israel attach each other then having a presence in the region would be vital, but ultimate victory does not depend on permanent bases. We define victory as leaving Iraq as an independent nation strong enough to defend themselves against their neighbors and terrorists from within and without and avoiding the extreme Islamists from taking power. If we can return with that achieved then we have indeed been victorious.

  19. #19 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 1:30 pm

    Ken– If you want to “keep Iran in check,” I’ve got some bad news for you. The people now in charge of Iraq are long-time Iranian allies. Saddam Hussein was a threat to nobody outside his own borders. Thanks to the U.S. invasion, Iran is now a bigger regional power than ever before. Whether extreme Islamists will rule Iraq depends on whether you consider Moqtada al-Sadr an extreme Islamist.

    If you don’t agree the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake, can you at least admit that the Bush administration miscalculated in thinking that they could get al-Maliki to agree to an open-ended occupation with permanent bases, and U.S. companies controlling the oilfields using production-sharing agreements? Let’s remember that the U.S.-drafted oil law was the number one declared “benchmark” of the so-called “surge.”

    R.O.– Let me refer you to The Blueprint for Change: Barack Obama’s Plan for America (PDF). That ought to help.

  20. #20 by Richard Okelberry on November 16, 2008 - 5:05 pm

    Thanks Richard W.

    Say do you know when this blue print was first published? I only need to ensure that it was originally published before Nov. 4th but would like a specific date if possible.

  21. #21 by Becky on November 16, 2008 - 6:19 pm

    RO, I linked to the blueprint in my post of October 29th.

  22. #22 by Richard Warnick on November 16, 2008 - 7:06 pm

    R.O.– The Blueprint for Change has been around since last February at least, although I didn’t read it until June. On January 7, I was one of those who criticized Obama for not having a detailed “to-do list.” So the blueprint probably hadn’t been published then. The PDF file itself is dated 10/9/2008 (check File–>Properties in Acrobat Reader).

    What was really good about this election is the way it came down to two competing governing philosophies. I think most voters ignored the “Obama is a terrorist” crap and cast their votes based on whose “to-do list” was better.

    President Jimmy Carter kept a binder in the Oval Office listing every campaign promise, and checking them off one by one. I don’t think President Obama will govern that way, as if all the levers of power are in the White House. I expect we’ll see him set a general direction, and delegate different people to get going on a wide variety of issues.

  23. #23 by Obama the Paul [merLoT] on November 17, 2008 - 11:40 am

    This may not be what is best for Iraq or us but is what we as a nation has committed to in electing Obama.


    You really would like that to happen, wouldn’t you? You would prefer that more damage be done to Iraq and America just to prove a point.

    Why, oh why, Okeldork, do you hate America so much?

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