Iraq and the United States are currently negotiating the terms of troop reductions next year which could leave as few as 50,000 active-duty American military in the country by the time President Bush leaves office. Nicholas Wapshott reports for the New York Sun:
With the eyes of the world focused on the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md., President Bush’s war tsar, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, quietly announced that the American and Iraqi governments will start talks early next year to bring about an end to the allied occupation by the close of Mr. Bush’s presidency.
The negotiations will bring to a formal conclusion the U.N. Chapter 7 Security Council involvement in the occupation and administration of Iraq, and are expected to reduce the number of American troops to about 50,000 troops permanently stationed there but largely confined to barracks, from the current 164,000 forces on active duty.
“The basic message here should be clear. Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own. That’s very good news. But it won’t have to stand alone,” General Lute yesterday told reporters in the White House.
Read the rest at the link provided. If indeed such a massive withdrawal is possible next year, it would tend to remove Iraq as an issue in the general election, although Republican candidates may be able to claim their fortitude in supporting the “surge” has provided the environment in which victory and honorable departure is possible. Both Democratic frontrunners, Clinton and Obama, refused to cave in to demands from the antiwar left to force immediate withdrawal, so they won’t look as foolish as the rest of the field or the Democratic leadership in Congress.
Unless, of course, we move them out of Iraq and into Iran, in which case there will still be some naysayers . . .
Thanks to Ed Morrissey for pointing out this story.