On June 28, 2005, President Bush explained why we can’t set a timetable for withdrawal. According to Bush, it would send the wrong message to Iraqis:
Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done.
Now, in an unusual show of unity, the Iraqis sent a message to President Bush:
Leaders of Iraq’s sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq’s opposition had a “legitimate right” of resistance.
Looks like President Bush needs a new excuse. Much more on this story at AmericaBlog.
UPDATE: From the Washington Post, 5/15/04:
Secretary of State Colin Powell emphatically said yesterday that if the incoming Iraqi interim government ordered the departure of foreign troops after June 30, they would pack up without protest, but emphasized he doubted such a request would be made.
… “If the provisional government asks us to leave, we will leave,” Bremer said, referring to an Iraqi administration due to take power June 30. “I don’t think that will happen, but obviously we don’t stay in countries where we’re not welcome.”