Now Richard L. Armitage — who served as deputy secretary of state from 2001–2005 — is advocating a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. From the New Jersey Express-Times:
“We notify the Iraqis that we’re going to be drawing down a reasonable but careful percentage of our troops over a reasonable interval of months — just for example, 5 percent of troops every three months,” Armitage told a crowd of 850 at DeSales University.
“This will show seriousness of purpose, I think. It will give our population some hope and enthusiasm that this is not a never-ending affair. And also it will put the heat on the Iraqis, because ladies and gentlemen, we can’t win this militarily. By the way, we can’t lose this militarily.”
Armitage’s remarks acknowledge the failure of the administration’s “as Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down” strategy. As Armitage points out, until Iraqis know we will stand down, they may never stand up.
Armitage was intimately involved in the Iraq war policy and recognizes that he and other top administration officials bear responsibility for a policy that ended up being a colossal failure. “A lot of us, including me, are going to have a lot to answer for,” Armitage said.
Armitage’s proposal closely tracks a plan that the Center for American Progress has been advocating for more than a year, Strategic Redeployment.