On Saturday, President Obama formally announced the end of the combat mission in Iraq. “On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war,” Obama said. “But the bottom line is this,” he added, “The war is ending. … And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.”
In 2008, President Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqis to pull out all U.S. troops by 2012. Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Iraq war cheerleader Bill Kristol said that he wants Obama to announce that the U.S. will stay after 2011, with a permanent occupation force:
CHRIS WALLACE: Where does Iraq stand?
KRISTOL: Well, a lot depends on what we do in Iraq, as it depended on what we did in 1953 in Korea. Eisenhower said, “I’ll get — we’ll get out of Korea. We’ll end the war.” He did. Republicans were bitterly critical of Truman’s conduct in the war in Korea.
He didn’t then pull all our troops out and wash his hands of it and say, “Well, this is up to the Koreans to resolve their future.” He left enough troops there. … If you talk privately to Bush people and to Obama people, they said that could be renegotiated. If the Iraqi government wants to renegotiate that over the next year once they get their government set up in the next month, the President, I think, should signal that he would be open to that.
Kristol then went back to his old refrain. “We won the war,” he said. But just seconds later, he attacked Obama for allegedly saying the same thing. “And this rhetoric of ‘the war is over, it’s now up to the Iraqis’ is a mistake. … It’s irresponsible,” Kristol said. Watch it:
While Obama never said “the war is over,” he did say this weekend that “all” U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq by 2012. And Gen. Ray Odierno — the commanding general in Iraq — did suggest that a small U.S. military presence “could” be possible, but nothing that amounts to what Kristol wants. “If the government of Iraq requests some technical assistance in fielding systems that allow them to continue to protect themselves, some external threats, we could be here,” he said.
But as Kristol once said before, only “sober, serious” people want tens of thousands of U.S. troops to stay in Iraq, even if it means putting more and more strain on the military, servicemembers and their families, and on the mission in Afghanistan. So even though “we won the war,” as Kristol says, the U.S. needs a large troop presence there indefinitely.