Defense Secretary Robert Gates Plans to Stop Iraq Troop Withdrawals

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, seen here in a picture funnier than any caption I could give it, said that he favors stopping the withdrawal of troops from Iraq at the end of the summer. Gates plans on stopping troop withdrawal after five brigades of troops return home in July.

Now there are two ways to read this. Gates calls it a “a brief period of consolidation and evaluation” after the first round of troops come home. I can see the logic in this approach! It’s probably best for the safety of all of our troops if we make sure that rushing them home doesn’t backfire in some way and put the remaining troops in grave danger. I guess the key term is “a brief period.” How long is brief?

Obviously Democrats aren’t happy about this. They see it as a way for Bush to hand off his debacle of a war to a new president to clean up.

“I suspect that what we’re seeing is part of an effort by the White House to kick the can down the road by maintaining the stay-the-course strategy through the end of the Bush presidency,” Democratic senator Robert Menendez said in a statement following Gates’s remarks.

“By refusing to change course, they will be passing off this war and its consequences for future generations of Americans to deal with and they will be undercutting our best chance for peace.”

Additionally, keeping the military strong in Iraq past the general election is probably best for the Republican party. It’s no secret that more troops equals less chaos. If McCain, a strong pro-war candidate, wants to win in November, Iraq needs to be relatively calm. The best way to do this is to keep as many troops in the country as possible. Gates said troop withdrawals were planned to resume by “yearend,” which would most likely be conveniently after the general election.

Ultimately, we’ll have to keep both eyes on this one. If a “brief period” is exactly that, then this probably isn’t a big deal. However, if we don’t see troop withdrawals from August until December, well, the Democrats might just have the right to be angry.

Gates Likely to Stop Iraq Troop Withdrawals – [Guardian UK]

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