Barack Obama says he will withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months if elected president. He was recently endorsed by Bill Richardson, who advocated keeping no residual troops in Iraq (combat or otherwise).
So I was intrigued by this story from the New York Sun about a confidential policy paper written by an adviser to Obama:
The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In “Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement,” Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government “the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground).”
Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign’s working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center’s Web site as a policy brief.
Both Mr. Kahl and a senior Obama campaign adviser reached yesterday said the paper does not represent the campaign’s Iraq position.
I would like a stronger statement from Obama that he categorically rules out keeping tens of thousands of troops in Iraq through the first two years of his administration.
Otherwise Bill Clinton will be proven correct: the idea of Obama as a consistent opponent of the Iraq war is a “fairy tale.”