President-elect Barack Obama, in one of the first policy statements of his transition, demanded that the Bush administration either submit the proposed U.S.-Iraq “status-of-forces agreement” to Congress or leave an opening for him to change it next year.
Obama’s transition office posted a statement on its Web site, declaring that any agreement on the future of
The statement also insisted that the agreement authorizing the presence of
Obama’s transition office noted the irony that the Iraqi government was submitting the agreement to its parliament while the Bush administration was set on approving the troop deal on its own authority.
“It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval — yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress,” the statement read. “The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the
Iraqi political leaders are demanding revisions in the current draft of the “status of forces agreement” to firm up a Dec. 31, 2011, withdrawal date for
During the campaign, Obama proposed a 16-month withdrawal timetable, which would have
Obama’s election has had the unexpected effect in
The Times quoted Hadi al-Ameri, a leader of the Islamic Supreme Council, a major Shiite party as saying, “Before, the Iraqis were thinking that if they sign the pact, there will be no respect for the schedule of troop withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011. …
“If Republicans were still there, there would be no respect for the timetable. This is a positive step to have the same theory about the timetable as Mr. Obama.” [NYT, Nov. 7, 2008]
When Obama launched his presidential campaign 22 months ago, his opposition to the Iraq War and his pledge to withdraw
Although the economic meltdown on Wall Street eclipsed much of the Iraq War debate during the last months of the presidential campaign, Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden used the launching of their new transition Web site to reiterate a determination to end the war.
At the Web site, www.change.gov, Obama said one of his first policy directives will be to give military commanders and the Secretary of Defense "a new mission in
More than 4,100
"Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in
"They will not build permanent bases in
Bush has been loath to accept a timeline for withdrawal, but he has reportedly agreed to accept a plan that envisions the removal of
Obama’s statement recommends a withdrawal pace of one to two combat brigades a month, ending in 16 months.
“That would be the summer of 2010 – more than seven years after the war began.
"There is no military solution to
Obama also has proposed dusting off the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group, which was headed by Bush family confidante James Baker and called for engaging
Bush brushed aside the Iraq Study Group’s report in December 2006 and instead followed a neoconservative plan to send 30,000 more troops to
Since then, more than 1,000 additional
Obama is scheduled to meet with Bush at the White House on Monday and it is likely Obama’s plan for
Last summer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer engineered a $162 billion funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan that funded the war until mid-2009 without a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, a move that angered many rank-and-file Democrats.
Pelosi apparently did not want to risk a political fight that she thought might jeopardize Democratic seats in Congress or reduce Obama’s chances of winning the White House.
Pelosi also explained, unconvincingly to some, that although she and her Democratic colleagues campaigned during the 2006 midterm elections on a promise to bring about a swift end to the war in Iraq, the party’s razor-thin majorities made it impossible to push through legislation to enact that goal
At a news conference on Wednesday, Pelosi made scant reference to ending the Iraq War, calling it a “priority” but declining to elaborate.
Progressive Democrats and senior members of the Out of Iraq Caucus, including Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, are expected to hold up funding for Iraq operations next year unless there are clear benchmarks and timetables for withdrawal attached to spending bills.
Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow and budget scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, who has closely tracked spending on the Iraq War, said Congress must change its spending habits.
In an interview, de Rugy said the Congress must end its “addiction” to emergency spending, which deprives lawmakers of the routine opportunity to scrutinize how the Pentagon spends the money.
Last month, the Congressional Research Service, an investigative arm of Congress, said the Bush administration’s reliance on emergency war funding circumvented normal budget constraints, reduced oversight and created opportunities for slipping in pet projects.
Emergency supplemental requests account for nearly all of the $661 billion spent thus far in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That’s unprecedented,” de Rugy said. “Never before has emergency supplemental spending been used to fund an entire war and over the course of so many years. Other wars were initially funded through emergency supplementals but eventually it went through the regular budget process.”