February 27, 2009, when he said, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."
In the sentence preceding that pledge, however, he had said, "I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months." Obama said nothing in his speech on Monday about withdrawing "combat brigades" or "combat troops" from Iraq until the end of 2011.
Even the concept of "ending the US combat mission" may be highly misleading, much like the concept of "withdrawing US combat brigades" was in 2009.
Under the administration's definition of the concept, combat operations will continue after August 2010, but will be defined as the secondary role of US forces in Iraq. The primary role will be to "advise and assist" Iraqi forces.
An official who spoke with Inter Press Service (IPS) on condition that his statements would be attributed to a "senior administration official" acknowledged that the 50,000 US troops remaining in Iraq beyond the deadline would have the same combat capabilities as the combat brigades that have been withdrawn.
The above is from Gareth Porter's "Obama drops pledge on Iraq" (Asia Times) and Trina noted it last night. She notes that I took a pass on it yesterday because I would have had to pair it with something (in a "See, Gareth can call out Obama! Why can't you?" comparison). I just wasn't in the mood and it's something that Ava and I can grab on Sunday (calling ___ out) for our TV piece at Third. Porter will be noted in today's snapshot (as Trina noted) but a number of e-mails came in asking why ___ wasn't covered. He was covered in a morning entry. I wasn't in the mood to unpack all of that again. And was focused on making sure that important things were noted -- a number of outlets were covering Iraq and some were doing a pretty good job. Some were doing a really bad job. But there was so much to cover and I wasn't in the mood for ____. Good for Gareth, it's a strong article, it's a great article and it will be noted in today's snapshot. Gareth's covering reality.
Reality was addressed yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR -- link has text and audio):
Melissa Block: And, Tom, let's start first with the basics. Are the 50,000 troops who will be staying in Iraq combat troops or not?
Tom Bowman: Well, Melissa, I think the simple answer is some American troops will not be in combat, others will find themselves in combat, and that's because Americans will still be going on in patrols with Iraqis. And those patrols, of course, could come under fire -- last time I checked, that's combat. Now, also the president himself in his speech said some American troops will partner with Iraqis on counterterrorism missions. That means going on the hunt for al-Qaida and other foreign fighters -- that obviously is combat.
There's much in the exchange to note but the most telling moment may have been at the end. Melissa Block asked, "And, Tom, another deadline coming up at the end of next year, 2011, when every U.S. soldier is supposed to be out of Iraq. Is that a realistic timetable?" Once upon a time the only answer -- remember how we were lied to? -- was the SOFA means the US leaves!!!! Remember Jar-Jar Blinks and all the other liars -- many of whom have attacked this site for stating the obvious and providing a legal analysis of the SOFA from the start (one that is and was accurate)? Tom Bowman replied, "You know, many people I talk with say it's not realistic. That deadline is part of a deal signed two years ago by the U.S. and Iraq, and we may see that agreement renegotiated. That's because the Iraqis will still need these trainers, logistics help, maybe even security help at the end of 2011. So the sense is some number of soldiers will end up remaining, not to mention American contractors."
Two reporters got it right in real time (November 2008). One, a friend, doesn't want credit because the attacks for explaining what the SOFA did and didn't do and how it was a treaty that could be extended led to nothing but abusive e-mails. If you've ever heard Jar-Jar Blinks 'reason,' you can understand how that mind-set works. But the SOFA is a treaty. It replaced the UN mandate. The UN mandate, for those who have forgotten, was problematic to the White House and to Nouri. It had to be renewed yearly and it also kept Iraq in client-state status. Nouri renewed it, bypassing Parliament, once and claimed a 'woopsie.' He then did the same again proving he would ignore the Parliament. That's why the SOFA was a three-year agreement. To get Parliament on board, Nouri swore the SOFA would go before the people AFTER it was ratified. It passed the Parliament (barely and many legislators chose to skip the vote). It was/is a three year contract with a yearly option. (It could have been killed by either side each year but it's too late now for the last option. Announcing you want out meant that in 12 months you'd be out. It's August 2010 so that kill clause is meaningless now.) It says US forces leave . . . and that's correct only if no new treaty replaces the SOFA.
The SOFA replaced the UN mandate. Another agreement will replace the SOFA, that's a given. Whether or not it allows for US forces in Iraq is the only question.
To finish out on the SOFA, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House rightly opposed it prior to it being rammed through in Iraq. The opposition included Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Immediately after the 2008 election, they dropped their opposition. That was stupid and insane. They allowed a precedent to be created that now does away with the "advise and consent" clause pertaining to treaties. They have no one to blame but themselves. And Jar-Jar Blinks and the other fools who pushed the non-binding resolution the House passed endorsing the SOFA might try sitting their asses down and studying the Constitution before lobbying Congress again.
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