‘NYT’ Report on U.S. Pullout in Iraq Next Year — Have We Heard It All Before?

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By: E&P Staff

The top story on front page of The New York Times today reveals that despite its opposition to any timetables for withdrawal in Iraq, the Bush administration actually is planning to withdraw 100,000 troops from there next year, or at least developing “concepts” to carry that out.

Glenn Greenwald, who now blogs at Salon.com, probably isn’t the only one who feels he’s heard it all before. He went a bit beyond that, however, finding some similarly optimistic statements from past years.

His full post is at Salon today, but here is how it opens.
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For four straight years, the same set of war supporters have constantly and repetitiously given the same exact false assurances about Iraq — virtually verbatim — in order to protect themselves politically. It is hard to know what is more amazing about this ritual — (a) how stupid they believe Americans are that they can make the same commitments over and over which never transpire, or (b) that the press jumps each time to proclaim the imminent troop reductions as though it never happened before:

–The Hill, May 3, 2006:

The withdrawal of 20,000-40,000 U.S. troops from Iraq this fall would greatly help Republican chances in the November election, Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) said at a fundraiser Thursday at the National Rifle Association. . . .

About 130,000 U.S. service personnel are stationed in Iraq. It is unclear if some of those troops will be withdrawn, but senior military officials have said they hope to reduce that number below 100,000 by the end of the year if the insurgency does not worsen and if Iraq makes more political and military progress.

–Newsday, December 18, 2005:

Trying to buy time with a public impatient over Iraq, President George W. Bush has repeatedly railed against the dangers of setting an “artificial timetable” for bringing home U.S. troops.

Yet the White House has signaled that it does have a timetable – all but saying that troops are likely to start pulling out of Iraq in 2006, possibly enough to cut the U.S. presence there in half, some analysts predict.

–CNN, December 8, 2005:

The military may reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq after next week’s parliamentary elections, but some of those troops were slated to come home earlier. Meanwhile, others who have not arrived yet may get to stay put, a Pentagon source said Thursday.

It’s long been in the works to bring home 23,000 troops after the elections. Those men and women were supposed to come home earlier, but their tours were extended to help beef up security before the December 15 elections, the source said.

–AP, April 15, 2004:

The Pentagon formally announced Thursday that it had stopped the planned return from Iraq of some 20,000 American troops, giving commanders the extra firepower they believe necessary to confront an insurgency that is taking a mounting toll on the U.S.-led coalition.

The decision, announced by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after first being reported Wednesday, breaks a promise to soldiers who were assured when they arrived in Iraq that they would stay no more than one year. . . .

The United States has a total of about 137,000 troops in Iraq now, Rumsfeld said. That number was supposed to have dipped to 115,000 by May, but Rumsfeld said Gen. John Abizaid, the overall commander of the Iraq war, decided he needs to keep the force level at about 135,000 troops.

–Reuters, November 6, 2003:
General Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon would be announcing “a very specific laydown” on Thursday.

Pace also told the House of Representatives Armed Services committee that the Pentagon plans to reduce U.S. troop strength in Iraq to about 100,000 by May 2003 as new units are rotated in.

He said the reduction from four to three divisions would be accommodated by an increase in the size of Iraqi security forces from about 115,000 to some 171,000.


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