U.S. Forces May Stay in Mosul Past Deadline

U.S. Forces May Stay in Mosul Past Deadline


For those who’ve worried that under the command of President Obama, our military in Iraq won’t be able to adjust to realities on the ground, there’s this story out of Mosul. Conditions in the region are not good and our forces are likely postpone the scheduled withdrawal if Iraqi authorities ask us to stay.

Army Colonel Gary Volesky, commander of U.S. forces in the Mosul area, said U.S. and Iraqi officials are now assessing security in the northern Iraqi city to determine whether his troops should leave by June 30, when U.S. combat forces are due to pull back from towns and cities across Iraq.

The deadline is part of a U.S.-Iraqi pact reached last year that also calls for all U.S. troops to depart Iraq by 2012.

Neither we nor the Iraqis want to leave a terrorist haven/destabilized region in Iraq. If Mosul is too violent for the Iraqis to govern effectively, there’s good reason to keep our forces involved. Such flexibility is necessary if we want to withdrawal from Iraq responsibly. At this point, it’s pretty clear Obama supports the responsible withdrawal side rather than the withdrawal-at-all-costs side many feared he’d follow once elected president.

Since taking office, Obama has tended towards pragmatism in military endeavors, even trending somewhat to the hawkish side, particularly in Afghanistan. For those listening closely during the election, this isn’t a huge surprise, but it is welcome.

  • Joshua

    Well, it’s not as though President Obama has much to fear politically if he doesn’t deliver on his original withdrawal deadline of fall 2010. So what if he disappoints the anti-war left? What are they going to do, turn against the man they helped to elect in the first place? In favor of whom, exactly?

    Obama’s pragmatism has done him credit, both here and with the Somali pirate/hostage situation, but then these were both pretty easy calls, at least in the sense of there being little if any political or diplomatic resistance. And in the case of the hostage rescue, things turned out as well as could have been hoped for. Will he stick to this pragmatic approach to foreign and military affairs when the end results aren’t so great, or when he runs into real opposition from Congress, the UN and/or other countries? That remains to be seen.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    For those listening closely during the election, this isn’t a huge surprise, but it is welcome.

    It’s amazing how few did actually listen closely during the election. I have been surprised by absolutely nothing from Obama so far. I think he has acted precisely as I expected him to act based on what I saw of him and heard from him.

    The surprise to me is that anyone is surprised. But people see what they want to see, and what they need to see, not what’s there. This probably argues less for good poli sci education than for a decent foundation in philosophy, particularly epistemology.

    I think the key to gauging Obama is this fact: he beat Hillary Clinton and then made her his subordinate partner. David beats Goliath, then hires him. That’s the Ur parable of Obama.

  • TerenceC

    Nearly 5,000 Americans killed – ten’s of thousands seriously injured – and hundreds of billions spent to militarily control the second largest oil producer in the world. An Arab country right in the center of the Middle-East allowing us to extend power to any neighboring country in a couple of hours. Hmmmm, it almost sounds like a plan doesn’t it?

    There will be a minimum of a Korea size force there for a very long time whether anyone likes it or not. The fighting and dieing may slow down, but the Americans are not going home any time soon. There were a lot of reasons given for starting the war in Iraq, none of them true – although the one outlined above makes the most sense to me. I wonder what the mood would have been if the American population had simply been told the truth from the beginning instead of a constant string of lies?

    It’s Obama’s game now and the momentum gleaned over the past 7 years by the Pentagon, it’s army of off the books contractors, and the litany of defense reliant businesses will not allow a non-military solution there for decades. There’s simply too much money being made there to just up and walk away.

  • kranky kritter

    I agree with Michael that folks surprised by how Obama has handled this so far weren’t listening.

    And I agree with the notion of responsible withdrawal in theory. But the nature of 4th gen warfare is for insurgent groups to fade into the background when discretion dictates and then cause trouble when opportunity presents itself. This constant exercise of both discretion and opportunism can be an extraordinary challenge in the real world, much more difficult than a phrase like “responsible withdrawal” implies.

    If more troubles ensue, how willing are we to play yo-yo?My sense is that withdrawal does need to basically be a one-way street, with possible minor and temporary exceptions. The general principal, I think, is that we have to stick to a goal of making Iraqi security become more of a problem for Iraqis and less of a problem for us with each passing week and month.

    That Al Quaeda and its associates understand this quite well is what makes it so difficult.