This week Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, announced U.S. troop reductions in Iraq by the end of 2007. On when those troops will be withdrawn, the New York Times reports:
If executed, the plan could have considerable political significance. The first reductions would take place before this falls Congressional elections, while even bigger cuts might come before the 2008 presidential election.
Today on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) reiterated that the timing of the troop withdrawals is politically motivated:
[Troop withdrawals] shouldn’t be a political decision, but it is going to be with this administration. … It’s as clear as your face, which is mighty clear, that before this election, this November, there’s going to be troop reductions in Iraq and the President will then claim some kind of progress or victory.
Conservatives have criticized progressives for suggesting a redeployment of troops in Iraq, saying they wanted to “cut and run.” But it looks like conservatives are willing to adopt redeployment when it will help them get re-elected in the fall, instead of now, when it is good policy.
Full transcript below:
WALLACE: Alright, Senator Levin, there’s also a report today that General Casey, the top commander of all foreign forces in Iraq, has laid out to plan to the Pentagon under which 7,000 U.S. troops would be pulled out by September and an additional at least 30,000 by the end of 2007. Now, you’ve been asking for a timetable. You put out a resolution this week that called for getting some troops out by the beginning of the year and a timetable for further withdrawals. Are you willing to take yes for an answer?
LEVIN: Of course. Frankly, it’s one of the worst kept secrets in this town that there’s going to be reductions in our forces, redeployments in our forces, before the election. I mean, it’s obvious what’s going on here. When we offered a resolution — not with a fixed timetable for the final departure of american troops — most Democrats voted against that. That was the Kerry resolution. We didn’t think there should be a fixed timetable for the ending, but we did, almost all the Democrats, including all of the Democratic senators who are considering running for president, then coalesce around the so-called Levin-Reed resolution, which urged simply the President to begin the phased redeployment of American forces from Iraq by the end of this year. The White House didn’t want to do that, and so it was rubber stamped by the Republican-dominated Senate. They just went along because the White House said no.
But let me tell you something — it will be the greatest shock in this town, it would be like a tornado hitting this town, frankly, if there’s not a reduction in our forces prior to the election. It will be timed for that by the administration, and i don’t have the slightest bit of doubt that —
WALLACE: This is twice you have linked this to the election. Let me ask you — do you think the decision to pull troops out is a political decision or a military decision?
LEVIN: It should be a military decision. General Casey at the Pentagon a few days ago said he believes there will be fairly substantial troop reductions this year. Of course, when we say military decisions, ultimately, it should be a civilian decision, but it shouldn’t be a political decision, but it is going to be with this administration. It’s as clear as your face, which is mighty clear, that before this election, this November, there’s going to be troop reductions in Iraq and the President will then claim some kind of progress or victory.