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March 5, 2006
Are We Leaving Iraq?

The London Telegraph reports that the US and British forces in Iraq will be withdrawn within twelve months. Sean Rayment writes that sources within the British government have made it known that both countries will withdraw back to their bases over the coming months in preparation for a full withdrawal in 2007:

All British and United States troops serving in Iraq will be withdrawn within a year in an effort to bring peace and stability to the country.

The news came as defence chiefs admitted privately that the British troop commitment in Afghanistan may last for up to 10 years. The planned pull-out from Iraq follows the acceptance by London and Washington that the presence of the coalition, mainly composed of British and US troops, is now seen as the main obstacle to peace.

According to a senior defence source directly involved in planning the withdrawal, Britain is the driving force behind the scheme. The early spring of next year has been identified as the optimum time for the start of the complex and dangerous operation.

If true, this stunning development will do absolutely nothing for Iraq, the US, or the Bush administration. It would not only violate the trust between the Coalition and the new Iraqi government, but it would also send the message that Washington insisted it would never send -- that Islamist terror pressure could force a withdrawal from the fight.

The Bush administration, if it has decided on this course of action, will receive no bump in popularity for a withdrawal. It will only be seen as weak and retreating in the face of polling numbers not much different for any president in the sixth year of office. Moreover, if the insurgency starts massive attacks that wind up collapsing the democratic institutions that we have helped build, the entire effort will rightly be seen as a failure. That failure will come from a lack of political will, not a lack of effort and progress on the ground in Iraq. That failure will not fall on the Left that undermined the effort, either; it will fall on the Administration that abandoned it.

Hopefully, this report will turn out to be incorrect or misunderstood. If so, it will soon pass from the headlines and into the oblivion of so many other false press reports in this war. If not, the Bush administration needs to start explaining its reversal and retreat.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 5, 2006 10:44 AM

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