Obama advisor wants 60K to 80K U.S. troops in Iraq through 2010

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.”

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  • New president takes office in 2009

    So 2010 would be just 12 months into the first term.  60,000 troops is a dramatic decrease from the 150,000 troops there now.  It is pretty much on schedule with what Obama is saying.

    • at the end of 2010

      was what this report said–that would be nearly two full years into Obama’s term. Obama says he’ll pull all the troops out in 16 months.

      But if 75,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq in December 2010, I’m sure it would be really comforting to them to know that Obama gave a GREAT speech against the war in October 2002.

  • He is making it hard to support him

    I have been an Obama supporter since I worked on his campaign before the caucus, but my number one reason was that he is getting all the troops out of Iraq.

    Taking a few out is just going to hurt the ones that are still there. I hope this is only clinton spread rumors…hoping.


    • how is it Clinton spread rumors

      if a newspaper has a copy of a report authored by the guy who chairs Obama’s working group on Iraq?

      Samantha Power also said (before she resigned from the campaign) that Obama would have to listen to the advice of military leaders if he were elected. That is code for bringing the troops out more slowly than he has been promising.

      I think that there would be no substantive difference between how Obama and Hillary would deal with Iraq. Both would draw troops down slowly at the rate of one to two brigades a month.

      • I said

        hoping there desmoinesdem:) And I suppose that it would be better than McCain’s 100 year strategy.

        • well, of course he would be better than McCain

          who wouldn’t draw down our troops at all.

          But Obama has been campaigning as a steadfast opponent of the war, who is committed to getting all our combat troops out. I’m not buying it, and I think anyone who has been buying should be wary.

  • Obama's not a magician...

    There are a lot of logistical challenges to taking so many troops out of a battlefield. We will still need people on the ground to complete training the Iraqi army, oversee security for shipping troops out, and managing the withdrawal.

    60-80k might be an unacceptably high number, but it might also be unrealistic to expect all the troops to be out by 2010.

    A question: Throughout the last few years of the Bush administration, haven’t we said that the President needs to listen to his generals and advisers more? If the generals tell a President Obama he needs to keep a residual force in Iraq….would it not be hypocritical of us to say he should ignore that advice?

    • well, that's very different from what Obama has been saying

      through this whole campaign. If that’s his secret view, then voters deserved to know about it earlier.