Iraq Withdrawal Plan Will Affect Election

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Barack, Iraq, McCain, War

There is a reported deal on the table that would have U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2012 with troops out of cities and towns by June 30, 2009. Both nations still have to approve the deal and there will be written-in wiggle room to allow Americans to stay longer at Iraqi request, but it certainly looks like there is soon going to be a timeline in place.

How will this affect the presidential race? If the Bush administration completes withdrawal plans in the next few months, does that undermine Barack Obama’s own plans for withdrawal? Does it also undermine John McCain’s “tough stance” on Iraq by forcing him into a position more in-line with the one Obama’s proposed all along?

Seemingly, because McCain has sided with the administration since the beginning of the surge, he will adjust his stance to accept the withdrawal timeline. After all, if American generals, the Iraqi government and key diplomats all agree that there is the necessary security to warrant an American withdrawal, I can’t see McCain disagreeing. He can probably position the policy shift by claiming he’s always followed the so-called realities on the ground.

Obama’s challenge is a little less straight-forward. He built a good deal of his campaign by actively opposing (some would say reflexively opposing) the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. Now, he’ll be a little stuck. He could say we need to get out even sooner, but “leave sooner” is not the most motivating of rallying cries.

We’ll have to see how this situation develops but, undoubtedly, the Bush administration’s massive policy shift towards accepting a timeline for withdrawal will affect the presidential race and how the two candidates position themselves. Who benefits most remains to be seen.


This entry was posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2008 and is filed under Barack, Iraq, McCain, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “Iraq Withdrawal Plan Will Affect Election”

  1. gerryf Says:

    Obama has always been against the war, he has always been for a deliberate, planned withdrawal.

    Sounds to me like Bush has come over to his side. I don’t see how this harms Obama, who can now say, “Finally, they are listening to what I have been saying all along. For a guy who they say lacks the experience to lead, it sure is neat they are following my lead.”

    This harms McCain. BUsh, by attempting to repair his legacy this late in the game, is cutting McCain off at the knees. He didn’t even give him much advance notice this was coming, putting McCain in the unenviable position of having to rebuke his “tough on war” stance just before his convention.

    I think you have it backwards

  2. kranky kritter Says:

    One point worth noting is that the current withdrawals being discussed are, from what I have read, withdrawals of forces from major urban areas. Nothing I read actually has said that they’ll be coming home, so let’s see about that. Anyone know? I take what I have read to mean that during some interim period, these troops would stand ready to surge back in if necessary.

    As far as candidate spin goes, I think both sides will use the same strategy…they’ll declare victory. McCain will say the withdrawal is equal to success and attribute the withdrawal to steadfast support of the surge, etc.

    Obama will say that without the steadfast opposition of anti-war folks, we wouldn’t be talking about withdrawal now.

    I think McCain currently has the better of those stories. But don’t underestimate the attractiveness of a story that allows folks to cling to their version of the truth.

    Also, don’t forget that the withdrawal is likely to be the hardest part. What’s our policy if violence spikes and stability plunges as we really start to actually draw down troops and re-station them and bring some home?

  3. ExiledIndependent Says:

    It affects both candidates, but probably more negatively for Obama. If Obama claims that the White House is “listening to him,” the responce from the POTUS will be something like, “With all due respect to the junior senator from Illinois, this was a decision based on the dynamic nature of foreign policy and the dramatic improvements that the troop surge has created.”

    McCain, on the other hand, will have to answer questions like, “If you’re elected, will you support the Bush timetable?” Sticky, but it doesn’t take the wind out of his sails quite so much. The McCain response will be, “I’ve always said that if the Iraqi government tells us to get out, we’ll get out. And the time ‘horizon’ is based on ground conditions and political stability, which has been my criteria all along.”

    But gotta love the semantic shift from “timetable” to “horizon.” Can’t wait for Bush to be done….

  4. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Obama has always been against the war, he has always been for a deliberate, planned withdrawal.

    …even if it meant defeat. In fact, especially when it meant defeat. Now that he has won the nomination and the war in Iraq is essetially won, he seems more “flexible” on withdrawal policy.

    This is a totally semantic argument because the word “timetable” is being used. “How long will it take to get our equipment out of here because we don’t need it anymore?” is completely different than, “The war is lost, it is unwinnable, we need to get our troops out of this hazardous situation now before it gets worse.

    It is night and day to me. Anyone else?

  5. rob Says:

    A draw down plan has been in place for a year.

    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/08/iraqis_standing_up.php

    The fact of the matter is that Iraq started turning around drastically when the US changed it’s strategy more than a year ago, which is why there hasn’t been much of any news about Iraq in the last year. Bad news sells better than good.

  6. gerryf Says:

    please Jimmy,

    It was just over a month ago Bush said, “I strongly rejected an artificial timetable of withdrawal.”

    And now a month later he is negotiating a withdrawal–yeah right. A month ago it was defeatist and now the situation has changed so much that a timetable is the right move.

    Three days ago, McCain was still against a timetable.

    Bush threw McCain under the bus on this one–big surprise.

  7. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    gerryf, do you agree, generally speaking, with my statement above:

    “How long will it take to get our equipment out of here because we don’t need it anymore?” is completely different than, “The war is lost, it is unwinnable, we need to get our troops out of this hazardous situation now before it gets worse.”

    and if so, do you think there is at least a chance that you might consider that the situation now in Iraq resembles the former assertion, and the situation in 2006-2007 resembled the latter?

  8. gerryf Says:

    Absolutely.

    However, you are painting with the broad brush of those who favored an immediate withdrawal (like Edwards) with Obama’s much more nuanced approach.

    There is no doubt that Obama has been consistent in his opposition to the Iraq war, highlighted by his Oct. 2, 2002, speech opposing the war

    However, once the U.S. went into Iraq, Obama while still opposing the war, has said he was not in favor of an early pullout.

    In 2004, he even talked about sending more U.S. troops to Iraq in order to stabilize the country as a prelude to an eventual withdrawal.

    His Senate voting record on Iraq supports this. He supported every bill, every measure on Iraw (exactly the same voting record as McCain and Hilary) through May 2007

    In June 2006 he even voted against an amendment proposed by John Kerry for the redeployment of U.S. troops.

    In January 2007, he SUPPORTED the surge, reluctantly.

    It was not until May 2007 when he finally voted to cut off funds for the war. That vote was accompanied by statements that he voted that way on the grounds that the administration had not agreed to a firm timetable for withdrawal.

    I don’t know about you, but I get pretty tired of writing a blank check for an administration that is clearly shown its incompetence.

    Any one who follows the political process –as you do–is aware that votes are sometimes used to send a message even when no action is officially taken.

    It wasn’t until September 2007 that Obama voted on an amendment to reduce the number of troops within 90 days–and it is worth noting that was after the Republican’s including McCain killed a measure to increase the layover between troop deployments for soldiers who had served in Iraq–hey, way to support the troops.

    It wasn’t until December 2007 that Obama sponsored legislation requiring troop withdrawal.

    This is hardly voting to withdrawal when it meant defeat.

    Your painting Obama’s record as such is misinformed at best and disingenuous if intentional.

  9. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Well then, Barack is just a regular Sun Tzu then isn’t he.

    In January 2007, he SUPPORTED the surge, reluctantly.

    “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there; in fact, I think it’ll do the reverse.” – Barack Obama, Janurary 2007.

    That is quite reluctant; to actually support something that you don’t support. Or how about this for nuance from the very same week:

    “I don’t think the president’s strategy is going to work. We went through two weeks of hearings on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; experts from across the spectrum–military and civilian, conservative and liberal–expressed great skepticism about it. My suggestion to the president has been that the only way we’re going to change the dynamic in Iraq and start seeing political commendation is actually if we create a system of phased redeployment.” – Barack Obama, Janurary 2007.

    I guess it’s like what the Prophet Mohammad said: “War is deception”. Obama is such a brilliant military strategist that he decieved us all into believing he was against the surge and favored withdrawal during the height of the insurgency, when all along, he was lockstep with General Patreus and John McCain.

  10. Jennifer Says:

    I think that ultimately this will help Obama. For anyone paying close attention to the campaign and listening to the attacks on Obama from the Mccain campaign, this simply undermines them. They continually say that Obama lacks the experience and judgment to be president, on top of all this many including the Bush administration attacked Obama for this idea, but now they are taking his view wholeheartedly.

  11. gerryf Says:

    So, people cannot debate an issue and have disagreements about various facets?

    His concern and his raising alternative views not withstanding, his nuanced approach still recognizes that despite the fact the war should never have been started and despite how incompetently it had been run, he still supported efforts to stabilize the situation before it became plausible to withdraw

    In your world, it’s either 100 percent support for a moron who led this country into a war we should never be in, or your a defeatist. This is more of the same GOP nonsense. Patriots support the idea no matter how dumb, and traitors try to raise opposing points of view. Please.

    That is the kind of group think that got us into mess after mess for the past 8 years. And now, once again, we are back to the truth–a phased withdrawal, that Bush is now supporting, is what is going to change the dynamic in Iraq.

    So, it only took Bush 20 months to catch up.

    Thanks for making my point.

  12. Patricia Says:

    Jimmy – from what I understand of your comment, Obama was not in favor of deploying more troops initially, but after the hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he stated that there would be benefit in redeployment in a well established phased system. That does not mean he was in favor of a SURGE. He has always been concerned about the cost of the war and would send troops in on a more strategic plan. It is important for a president to make decisions based on the most current information. So, I believe there is a distinct difference in the two positions, except McCain INSISTS that the SURGE solved all of the problems.
    Now that Pres Bush and C. Rice are negotiating a withdrawal timeline, it coincides with Obama’s way of thinking. It will be interesting to see how the Republicans spin this.

  13. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Quote Of The Day Says:

    [...] in response to Alan’s question of whether or not this new timetable helps Obama or McCain…my money is on Obama since it [...]

  14. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    he still supported efforts to stabilize the situation before it became plausible to withdraw
    Exactly how did Obama think stabilization would be achieved? Well, he said it right there – “phased redeployment” – i.e. withdrawing troops according to a set timetable would pressure Iraqis to take control and create stability.

    Now that Bush doubled down, addressed the mistakes, and the new strategy appears to be successful, you can write the alternate history in your minds all you want; i.e. that the surge was redundant, and that peace and stability would naturally have been achieved swifter and more efficiently if all U.S. troops were removed from Iraq by March 2008. Keep telling that to yourselves.

    and Patricia, its not all that nuanced…“phased redeployment” is clearly a euphamism for “lets get the f#ck out”. Even Bill Maher or Michael Moore could tell you that.

  15. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    he still supported efforts to stabilize the situation before it became plausible to withdraw

    Exactly how did Obama think stabilization would be achieved? Well, he said it right there – “phased redeployment” – i.e. withdrawing troops according to a set timetable would pressure Iraqis to take control and create stability.

    Now that Bush doubled down, addressed the mistakes, and the new strategy appears to be successful, you can write the alternate history in your minds all you want; i.e. that the surge was redundant, and that peace and stability would naturally have been achieved swifter and more efficiently if all U.S. troops were removed from Iraq by March 2008. Keep telling that to yourselves.

    and Patricia, its not all that nuanced…“phased redeployment” is clearly a euphamism for “lets get the f#ck out”. Even Bill Maher or Michael Moore could tell you that.

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