Thursday, March 29, 2007
Iraq withdrawal deadline: The tricky part

U.S. troops conduct a foot patrol through southern Baghdad last week.

Meeting a deadline to pull out of Iraq is no small feat. Regardless of how much some people may want it and putting aside the question of whether it is a good idea, the numbers tell the tale of its difficulty.

The Pentagon says right now about 143,000 American troops are there, and soon that number will be pushed up to 160,000. And the military does not travel light. There are tens of thousands of airplanes, helicopters, tanks, armored vehicles, strykers, you name it, spread all over the country. Sure, there are concentrations of troops and equipment in Bagdhad and Al Anbar province, but everyone will have to come home, and that means some will come from every corner of that country.

Military analysts say many thousands may well fly out of Bagdhad's airport, but most will get out the same way they got in: overland through Kuwait.

But here's the tricky part. All along the way, former military leaders say, American troops can expect to be dogged by insurgents trying to drive up casualties even as the United States withdraws. And that's why some of those same military minds say this is a terrible idea. Some accept the notion that withdrawal may be the right plan, but they say announcing the deadline is simply a dangerous folly that no one in war can afford.

Sure, it's the same argument we've heard all along, but now it is getting closer to a test of reality. So what do you think? Is the idea of a deadline dangerous? Or is it the only way to make the politicians in Washington get serious about ending the war?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 5:52 PM ET
  60 Comments
So explain to me that if we set a date at some random time in the future that that is wrong.......BUT when it comes that vague time approved by OUR DECIDER to start bringing our troops home (and leave the Iraqis to support their own country) AND since we can't disappear overnite with a "Surprise!!! We're gone" note left on the pillow...........explain the difference to me. Regardless of when the date is set THEY are going to know that the US is leaving. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that 140,000 people are leaving your country. Let's set a date we can work toward and save lives....both in the term of death and the ones that remain alive but are so wounded that the life they left is no longer there when they get back.
Posted By Anonymous Brenda Brenneman, Iowa City, IA : 5:46 PM ET
The idea of a deadline isn't dangerous. A President who fails to realize the damage he has done to this country while refusing any compromise on his failed policies is what's dangerous.

This war should end as soon as possible and all of our troops should be removed from harm's way. There is no way to win a war when the country you are trying to save is determined to carry on it's 1000 year jihad.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 5:49 PM ET
Its only a matter of time (and blood and money) before we pull out of Iraq. We must pull out eventually, and WHEN we do--there will be a civil war....if its tomorrow or in 20 years--it will happen and we are responsible.

So here is a simple solution --if you support the war, enlist for immediate deployment. Let anyone who doesn't want to fight for this "liberation" come home now. Those who want to fight can, and those that don't can be Honorably discharged with full benefits and no stigmas.

PS. What ever happened to "war-time presidents" that ACTUALLY fought in the war?
Posted By Anonymous Theo M. -- Denver, CO : 6:27 PM ET
I'm still amazed that we're focused on quiting rather than winning. You can not enter a war knowing the date it will be over. Based upon the attitudes of many in this country, I have doubts that the American people have the will to ever win a war again. I guess freedom for the Iraqi people is just not in our budget.
Posted By Anonymous Walt Vinzant, Senatobia, MS : 6:47 PM ET
Gads...why doesn't everyone provide the enemy with vehicle identifiers and a travel itenerary while they're at it? This whole point is moot anyway. President Bush has already said he'll veto any measure for a forced pull out, and I doubt there are enough votes to overturn it. I personally think that dishonoring our committment to the people of Iraq makes us cowards and extremely lame. Leaving without completing our mission sends a message that thousands of military and civlian personnel died for nothing. I promise. My friend volunteered and died as a result of this war in Iraq for something. Washington is well aware of what the people want. They just maybe have a better grip in the overall military and executive branch than a bunch of polticians looking for re-election, civilians basing this on emotion, and media types who've been against this war since it basically started. Here's a novel concept. Let the military do their jobs over there, let our leaders decide how to turn this around, and let the media keep their noses out of places they don't belong.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 6:56 PM ET
In response to the gentleman above. If the military was able to just lay down their weopons and leave no questions asked, there would be no America. People volunteer to defend their nation. No one forces a Soldier, Marine, Airmen, or Sailor to enlist. They may not agree with the orders given, but as the Oath of Enlistment states, "I will obey the orders of the President of the US an the orders of the officers appointed over me.." No one's hand was forced to the paper. God bless our troops and God bless our country.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Ciman Albany NY : 6:58 PM ET
Hello Tom,

To define a deadline would mean working completly against any effort of our brave and dedicated US troops, it's like handing over a blueprint detailing all of our military strategy to the enemy, makes no practical sence.

With the small increment of troops recently added, there has already been some progress in containing the assortment of violence, the media left play's it down, our troops listen and watch to what is being said and reported , so do our enemies. Progress is complex and can be slow, regardless of left or right debate our troops deserve our support.

Maritza
Posted By Anonymous Maritza San Jose. Ca : 7:02 PM ET
Yankee imperialism has a price. You should not have gone into Iraq. Bush lied to you and now you are in this mess. Congress is rightfully unwilling to contribute to the folly. There will be no perfect exit from this quagmire. This plan is as good as any.
Posted By Anonymous George Brandstedar , Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada : 7:05 PM ET
Start bringing them home now. Don't wait until September 30 to do it. Don't announce a date, just start doing it now. It's a disasterous situation now, and it's going to be a mess when we leave. Why wait?

Linda
Boulder, Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 7:08 PM ET
An announced deadline for withdrawal is totally illogical. It's like saying, "Okay, just wait until (plug in a date), and you can be ready to come in and destroy a vulnerable fledgling democracy and slaughter our troops as they withdraw. With the blessing of the United States Congress."
Posted By Anonymous Betty Barrett, LaFayette, Alabama : 7:08 PM ET
Tom,
I wish someone could give me an answer. One that made sense, one that I could believe.

Yes, I do think that when we do pull out, whether or not it is a preplanned "confidential" withdrawal, all that has been fought for all these years, will be lost. The people who wanted freedom will be overrun, not by just one hostile country but, rather, as many as are participating to gain the world.

On the otherhand, how much longer can we stay? More lives sacrificed, with the same results in the end. Can we be sure the war won't be on our soil even sooner? We barely have enough troops left now. We can't even protect our borders or our ports as it is.

I almost want to laugh when I hear talk of another country making a pre-emptive strike on our country. I guess what we did was different. Could have saved a lot of lives, a lot of our planet and a lot of money had we only waited until someone actually had the capacity to destroy us, and had we gone for the fanatics of the right country.

I haven't even learned to speak Spanish, how can I ever hope to learn all those other languages?

I know, I get a little wound up, but you did ask. And I watched my manners this time!

Maggie
Posted By Anonymous Maggie GVMO : 7:16 PM ET
It has become a no-win scenario; if we stay, Americans die and if we leave, Americans die.

The problem with the latter is that when we leave, the "Civil War" will really be a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both of which have made it clear they will move to counter the other's influence.

Americans will die because this war (between top oil producing countries)will eventually drag us back into the fray. This type of war has WW III types of implications. If we would actually do as Gen. Petraeus asks, we could help the Iraqis stabilize and avoid a bigger war. Politicians need the votes of a population who largely does not understand the implications of the situation, so they make decisions to keep their jobs rather than make the horrible, yet necessary decisions.
Posted By Anonymous Bo Joneston, Seattle, WA : 7:17 PM ET
Hi Tom. I have no military background, but, IMO the only way to make the Iraqi's stand up and take over their own security is to set a date. There does not seem to be any urgency in the mind of the Iraqi military to do this.
Once the "occupiers" are out of Iraq, the Iraqi's may decide to solve their own problems. They are draining our coffers dry and killing our soldiers and seem content to continue on this path. So I say, Yes, set a date and expect them to create the great country they want or fail by their own sword.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn Michigan : 7:19 PM ET
Tom,
I think it is a very bad idea to set a deadline to leave Iraq. Because then we are showing the enemy our hand, so to speak! They can set up road bombs and hide out and attack our troops along the routes that they would be using to leave. If and when we leave Iraq it should not be known by anyone but the troops themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Cynthia, Covington, Ga. : 7:25 PM ET
I don't think that is a realistic amount of time to pull out of Iraq. There is so much work left to be done.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 7:31 PM ET
The present administration got us in there. They better figure a way out.
Posted By Anonymous Ed, Twin Falls, Idaho : 7:34 PM ET
Our leaders are finding it's much easier to lie your way into a war than to lie your way out of one.
Posted By Anonymous Tom - Grand Junction, CO : 7:43 PM ET
Taking Saddam out was a good thing.
Introducing a kind of a "civilian shaped governemnt" was OK. But trying to secure a shiite and sunni co-existance was a bad move, because they have to do it themselves.

I am an arab living in the U.S. and I know how my people think. They will continue fighting, even if they lay low for a while.

This country and its brave soldiers do not deserve to fight in a "civil war" that probably will last for years.

The U.S. should concentrate its efforts on "Al-Qaeda" and Afghanistan.
God Bless American Freedom Fightes.
Posted By Anonymous Maged Kamel, LA, CA : 7:47 PM ET
Guess what - We already won the war that we went to fight. Saddam was toppled and later captured. Now, we are fighting the very terrorists who we purportedly were stopping. Our war had an consequence - we made Iraq a safe haven for terrorists and a place for them to get what they wanted - a voice. Since the very early days of the war this is what we have been doing. Let's get out of there and stop giving the terrorists a stage from which to gain notoriety. We caused this mess and the only way to stop it is to withdraw. Unfortunately, we have upended the lives of millions of Iraqis in the process. We'll need to adequately compensate them, too. I'm not talking about giving American companies contracts for inflated prices to rebuild. Let's give it to the Iraqi people and let them rebuild their country the way they want to.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Santa Fe, NM : 7:48 PM ET
Yeah okay fine, bring the boys home but what then for Iraq?

The US started this whole mess, y'all should clean it up before you leave. Have a proper government in place and trained Iraqi military or police to prevent civil war worsening or spilling over into neighbouring countries. You have a lot of work to do before you leave in September, get busy! The time for talk is over, it's time for action.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 7:59 PM ET
The deadline issue has confused me from the begining. I think the motivation is political and is not done with the soliders best intentions.
The decision on movement or timing should be left up to the military commanders, it is their job to finish the mission and withdrawl. Most Americans and even our politicians don't know the details of what is going on in Iraq.
Also, don't we still have American troops in South Korea? That war was over a long time ago, but the South Koreans still require assistance. How come the House is not voting to have those troops come home? Or Vietnam? Or Japan? Or Germany?
There should be troops there for years to come to protect the region.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, Anaheim, CA : 8:22 PM ET
You never should have been in Iraq in the first place. For the sake of the families, bring them all home now!
Posted By Anonymous Donna M. Whitby, Ontario : 8:23 PM ET
This is an absurd argument. We are going to leave sooner or later & do we think that by not announcing the date the Iraqis won't notice? Idiocy. It is also difficult for me to believe that the majority of the so-called "insurgents" would make time in their busy schedules of killing one another to take one last pot shot at our folks. Can anyone seriously believe that this is a war between the USA & "the terrorists" anymore? This is a sectarian war amongst the Iraqis & we are simply in the way.
Posted By Anonymous Nathan Lazelle Buffalo, NY : 8:27 PM ET
Dear Tom Foreman,

I do think that the idea of a deadline sounds dangerous. According to Michael (I hope I got his name right) -the CNN guy in Bagdad- there are several wars going on there in different regions of Iraq and each with its own complexities. How these wars will end up in turning the Middle-East against the US, should be taken in consideration by politicians in Washington. I think they should do the withdrawal process by carefully and strategically take baby steps instead of withdrawing all at once.
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 8:36 PM ET
Get out now - It will be a horrible mess, but it will be whenever we do leave - and we will leave. This: "Letting them find their destiny" kind of talk is so funny> We are finding their destiny and it better be what we think their destiny should be!

As for the military? Didn't the great General and President Eisenhower warn us all about letting the military run the show?

Oh- to point out the arrogance of our country, some of it - Everything is measured by OUR injuries and OUR deaths - Face it, we are not in this for THEIR destiny.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Tyler, TX : 8:45 PM ET
So we should honor those who have sacrificed so much by killing more of them? Great, just fabulous. You people would've made great kamikaze pilots in WWII. Get it through your heads that those people don't want us there any more than the folks here want them there. Do them the greatest honor of all. Take them out of harm's way and bring them home. They've done what they were told to do. Anything else is senseless sacrifice for no possible gain. If the Iraqi's truly want democracy (which they don't) the've been given that chance. It's up to them
Posted By Anonymous Craig A. Carroll Hastings, MN : 8:51 PM ET
As a memember of the milatry having served in both afghanistan and IRAQ. i must say when our leaders say it is time to leave. We must do it in a diplomatic fashion and with consideration for my fellow soldiers and the iraqi people. The insurgents do know that eventually we must leave. Whethera definite date is given or not .


still serving my country proudly
Posted By Anonymous june-ann brookln,ny : 8:53 PM ET
Even the reporters aren't getting the numbers right....how bout the same number nearly 140,000 in support services? Oh, sorry the nationals from countries like Egypt, Ghana etc that work for Halibuton & its affilates don't really count do they? Once they stop getting $100 per laundry bag per soldier I am positiver they'll take carte of their low paid hands.....right? as far as a timeline for leaving, there will be that last man to die for this administrations deceptions, whethere a time line is presented, followed or not.
Posted By Anonymous Andzia Chmil Scranton Pa : 8:59 PM ET
These are truly fantastic questions. I think that it is nearly impossible to pull out aproximately 300,000+ troops, plus possibly thousands of tons of equipment on a whim or at the flick of a pen. Just so that everybody understands in the chain of command in the military; there has to be dates, times, and a plan toward getting them all out.

I love Anderson Cooper 360 and everything that you all do, but when the army comes out with its time tables, you all at 360 will be there and tell the world what is going on. Not to mention other television outlets will be there too. No one would resist the journalistic urge to be the first to tell the public that the troops are coming home. Unfortunately, this information will feed anti-American insurgents and possibly there will be an upsurge of violence and death.

I don't think there is a way you can stop that; unless, one gets creative with the dates and the removal process.

More death should not be a determinant in bringing the troops home. The troops face death everyday. You have shown in your own documentaries like COMBAT HOSPITAL how the mortally injured and seriously injured come into the medical facilities in droves. Some make it out and some don't. The politicians have to determine the worth of having American soldiers fighting in Iraq. The politicians have to assess their efforts changing the culture of Iraq. These questions have to be considered -- Are Iraqis more willing to take control of things themselves and work together in some sort of a democratic government. If the politicians can agree that this is happening then, sure, the troops should stay. If this is not happening, which I don't think it is, then the troops should come home. In my mind, there is no gray area here. Staying in a conflict that is getting perpetually worse only hastens death. Then the death is looked upon as noble but sensless because the situation is getting worse. So, it makes sense to leave to save young American lives.

I honestly think that politicians on both sides of the aisle are serious about the war. I just think that no one can come to an agreement about anything because they can't accurately predict the future of the war or the situation in Iraq after the troops are gone. No political party wants to be blamed for the failure of the war, the breakdown of the region, or massive troop death. Its an overwhelming problem that has no real acceptable political answer.

Bush strongly believes that if we stay and fight, the insurgency will die down and the country will be saved. To everybody else, it looks as if the fighting is leading to more anger and destabilization in the region. Plus, we now have Iran that we have to consider. Will a weakened Iraq be taken over by an over zealous Iran? Does Bush want that take over on his watch? Hmmmmm!!!

I think the troops should come home. It is up to the generals to get them out of there the best way they can, with as many troops as possible alive. It will happen with dates, it has to! There is no other way around it, but maybe the dates can be set in such a way that insurgents will find it difficult to kill Americans with their IEDs. Maybe I am dreaming. We just have to wait and see.
Posted By Anonymous Madeliene Bolden; Atlanta, Georgia : 9:00 PM ET
I think we need to stay there for several decades at least, in order to combat islamic extremism. We still have a military presence in Germany and Japan. Peace is not the absence of conflict. To cut and run will just embolden the enemy and move the war closer to home. They only understand military might.
Posted By Anonymous Ro, Spring TEXAS : 3:41 AM ET
"I personally think that dishonoring our committment to the people of Iraq makes us cowards and extremely lame."

Would that be our commitment to kill hundreds of thousands of them?
Posted By Anonymous Nick Danger, Brooklyn, NY : 3:57 AM ET
A year from now even after we have secured the major cities and begin our withdraw soldiers will still face attacks during the pullout. The goal is not to kill or defeat every single extremist. The US is only going to stabilize the country enough to allow the Iraqi govt to have some sense of control. So, we can start the withdraw of troops in a couple of months saving hundreds of American lives or we can start in a year losing hundreds more. For Iraq, the end result will be the same a country that is torn by extremist secretarian violence that the US can never hope to stop.
Posted By Anonymous Damon, San Antonio, Tx : 4:23 AM ET
Many of these politians are letting the wrikles on the face get in the way of their common sense decision making. Sure, we want our troops home as soon as possible. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Let the military commanders make those decisions, not politians that can't get along with on another because of the party they belong to. I agree with many of the commentors that giving a timetable for withdrawal is just giving a death sentence to many of those brave soldiers we have over there and smiting those who have already given their all.

Why do I care? My son is currently in Al Habbaniyah, Iraq. We fear for his life and safety every day. But he and I agree that it needs to be done right. Let the military do what they do best, win this war and come home.

We started this round in Iraq and we need to finish it once and for all!!!
Posted By Anonymous Ray Gillespie Gaston, Indiana : 6:03 AM ET
Winning in Iraq isn't just about the Iraqis. The establishment of a democracy there is another step in winning the War on Terrorism. The only way a withdrawal deadline should be acceptable to anyone who's not a terrorist, is if this retreat is then countered with another attack.

No one wants war, but sometimes there is no political solution. History has shown that many times. Just like a slave owner was willing to fight to the death to own a person, just as Nazi's fought to the death for their "master race," terrorists are fighting us to the death for being the leader and world heavyweight champ of democracy.

But this isn't a boxing match where the ring of the bell says it's over, time to go home. When someone is going to fight to the death, that bell becomes meaningless and they will follow you home.


Support our troops AND their goals.
Posted By Anonymous Kurt, Scottsdale, Az : 6:26 AM ET
Setting aside the question of the wisdom of leaving Iraq or staying.... announcing a withdrawal date (prior to the ending of hostilitys) makes no more sense than giving advanced warning of the inception of military action prior to our going in country. Both only give those who would wish to harm us advanced notice that they would be able to take advantage of (their advantage not ours)
Posted By Anonymous Arthur Orr Winsted, CT : 6:38 AM ET
Let them declare the phoney victory and get the hell out of there. Enough is enough ! Americans and the world are tired of this stupid folly !
Posted By Anonymous Farih Tabbah Amman Jordan : 7:36 AM ET
Setting a deadline is outrages. The concept is based on a political agenda set by the democrats. Sure we need to leave Iraq but it should be a Militarily controlled operation not a national democratic campaign show.
Posted By Anonymous John Garner O'fallon Missouri : 8:31 AM ET
There needs to be a schedule for drawdown and certainly a deadline for complete withdrawl in Iraq. Whether we publish a deadline or not, we will eventually have to leave and when leaving, will probably face some casualties. What is new in this? There has been an upsurge of casualties both military and civillian in Iraq for the last year. Many are calling it civil war. We have NO business getting in the middle of a civil war. Other Arab countries in the region should step up and replace our troops as they leave. Then there will be no huge upsurge in violence during and after the drawdown.
Posted By Anonymous Dina Mayne, Dacula, GA : 9:02 AM ET
It is STUPID to continue using our young men and women as targets in IRAQ.
We should pull out with very little warning the same way we went in. Bush and the RNC wants to keep fighting let them go in and do so. Our puppet government will fall but would be replaced by an Iraqi government. Of course the Criminal elements like Haliburton and the many lunatic Neo-Con.s might loose their ill- be gotten gains. "the great welfare program of the Bushes to enrich his corrupt buddies" at the expense of the US TAXPAYERS should come to an end if our "Controlled media" finds some courage and fullfills it's role in our political landscape. 6 years of "State Controlled Media" and propaganda from the RNC should come to an end.
Posted By Anonymous Owen Telford PA : 9:22 AM ET
i dont think we should be worring about how they are getting out if its in March 08
Posted By Anonymous Abe, Brooklyn NY : 9:25 AM ET
I really don't understand why we are still there except maybe for a presidents pride or his personal gain. For those republicans to say that pulling out is a message to the "bad guys" that they have won and that we are not supporting the troops is unbelievably stupid. How better to support a troop then by bring him or her home out of harms way to be with their faimlies. Some troops are on the 2nd and 3rd deployments which means they have been away from family at least two years. Two years...three years wasted away in some foreign country trying to help people that don't like us and dont want our help. I was an infantryman serving in al anbar and those people didn't want us there. The american forces there pretty much made everyone there leave, hate us, or turn into a future insurgent. Their lives are worse with us there. And people that think we owe it to the troops who have died and their families to stay there obiviously haven't been there or have known anyone that has died there. Thats the last thing the families of the dead want to have more families have their sons and daughters killed for a senseless stupid war. After the democrats prevail and get the troops back home they should work on a plan to get the insane son of satan better known as president Bush out of office.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Rosenbaum, Fayetville : 9:36 AM ET
Don't set a date to end the challenges for our troops. I know that most over there love what they do, understand the risks, and would not ever pass up on the opportunity for a foreign combat deployment, despite all that "poor soldier" stuff I hear on the liberal media. I only wish I weren't too old to sign up for more action!
Posted By Anonymous Hugh, Orlando FL : 9:55 AM ET
I believe announcing a withdrawal date is a monumental mistake. The government is all but signing the death warrants of potentially thousands of troops. Although I believe we did the right thing in removing Saddam from power I also belive we need to leave, but we need to do it in the right manner at the right time. Iraq is a very delicate situation that requires the appropriate action. We created this mess, now we need to clean it up in the proper way, not announce to the world that we're giving up and leaving the Iraqi people to fend for themselves. That would also be signing the death warrants for probably thousands of Iraqi citizens that will be left behind. To leave without the proper support in place to ensure the safety of the Iraqi people would be the exact same move made during the US pullout in Vietnam. Let's finish our job and leave these people like they deserve - with security and freedom!
Posted By Anonymous Nichole, Rock Hill SC : 9:56 AM ET
I love all the Canadian comments from Left field, or should I say Leftist field. I don't think the Canadians have earned the right to comment on this subject, or any other re. the U.S. as they rely on America for thier entire security situation.
Posted By Anonymous Stefan, Orlando FL : 10:00 AM ET
It's disturbing to see that some Americans still actually believe that our main objective in Iraq was to benefit their citizens, but after we re-elected Bush, the true extent or our ignorance was revealed to the world, so it's not surprising.

Of course Bush isn't going to set a date to pull out--he's not going to do anything to imply he was wrong--no matter how obvious it is to the world, because he still has plenty of mindless supporters in his own country to tell him he's wonderfull and he'll take whatever admiration he can get--he's not picky.

Plus, all he has to do is hold his course for a couple more years, then simply blame the failure on our incoming President. It's really quite simple how HE, personally, will get out of his mess. It's kind of obvious that he doesn't much care about the fate of the rest of the world.

I thought I heard that the Saudi's "threatened" to step in and defend the Sunni minority if we left. Well, anyone with half a brain knows that WE certainly have no way of "completing our mission", so, what's so bad about that scenario?
Posted By Anonymous chris manchester, nh : 10:38 AM ET
This situation is not an American War, Americans are just getting killed in the crossfire. Our occupation is just further justifying to a whole new generation of people extremism and hatred towards the West and more specifically America. When Israel occupied Lebanon in the 1980's, Hezbollah emerged to fight them. With Hezbollah came new and more violent Terror/Insurgency Tactics. In the end they were trying to stop the PLO and only created a worse and more violent group. Today its the same thing all over again. We are fueling the fire and are leadership is too arrogant to realize how destructive the current course of action is. I personally don't even see what we are fighting to win anymore because peace in Iraq is just not realistic at this point. I think its important to realize that situations change over time and your policies need to change with it or you'll end up in a constantly degrading and worsening situation. If you look you can see it every day in business' and if you look throughout history, it is also true with governments. I think its been long over due to cut our losses from this because we are only delaying the inevitable. I don't know if its feasible to set a date, but I think we should start working towards a policy of withdrawal.
Posted By Anonymous Connecticut : 11:01 AM ET
Have you seen the news about the cleric Al-Sadr, blasting the United States and the "occupation". This is the faction that we are putting in control of the government.

So, what exactly are we doing? And what exactly would a "win" be in this war?
Posted By Anonymous David Fields, Worcester, MA : 11:32 AM ET
The Democratic strategy for Iraq and the war on terrorism is nothing more than cowardice and hypocrisy. Power means more to them than doing what is right for the country. I wouldn't follow any them anywhere and certainly wouldn't want them beside me combat. I am ashamed that we have become a nation of sheep. The Democrats keep touting their so called "mandate" from the people. Well just over 50% may be a majority but it is certainly not a "mandate". From a Vietnam vet who watched another "sell out".
Posted By Anonymous Mike Divita, Midlothian, VA : 11:36 AM ET
I can accept the differing opinions on the war -- one side says let's let the military do its job and try to win, the other side says we can't win (we've essentially already lost) so let's stop the bloodshed.

That is a valid philosophical point of contention, but in terms of prosecution of the war there is only one commander in chief and if congress really thinks the country is better off by ending the war, they should simply cut funding for the war and force a withdrawal.

Unfortunately, you don't prosecute a war according to opinion polls. This is coming across like one more effort by the Democrat majority to humiliate Bush and seize more control in Washington. And I'm not necessarily a Bush fan.
Posted By Anonymous David, Tulsa OK : 11:42 AM ET
Sure am glad we didn't have this senate and congress during ww2.I could see them telling Japan and Germany when we will be leaving.Obviously no one on the hill has read the Art of War.
Posted By Anonymous f. baker Leonard TX : 11:48 AM ET
Gosh, if only we could slip out under the cover of darkness like Washington did crossing the Delaware or Lee did leaving Petersburg. Well we can't. I am picturing a scene like in the movie Black Hawk Down where our soldiers are stoned and shot at as they leave. It breaks my heart. Having been against this war from the beginning, I have no trust that Bush or Congress know what to do. At this point I say let's ask Michael Ware and go with what he says. He has been living the war since the beginning and has impressed me as an astute judge of the reality that is Iraq. We can't do any worse than we have so far.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 11:51 AM ET
The genius who got us in SURELY thought of a way to get us out.Didn't he?
Posted By Anonymous ville platte,la : 12:05 PM ET
So, we can never leave? No way to sneak out overland, no way to fly out? No wonder Bush keeps saying we have to 'win the war.'
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Statesboro GA : 12:10 PM ET
I wrote an article entitled: "Early Troop PULLOUT Will Cost 10,000 American Lives". Here is an extract.
Let�s say that there are 150,000 men and women who need to be extricated from Iraq. All of the Coalition Forces are currently spread over the total landscape of Iraq and in units capable of providing defensive protection for those Coalition forces. Withdrawal will be done in a reasonably organized fashion, at first. One Battalion sized unit leaves then another and they pull back their defensive positions toward a central debarkation point so that the area to be defended gets smaller with each extraction of forces. We will work to turn over a lot of equipment and materiel to the Iraqi Government and Army in an attempt to bolster their capability. This will work pretty well until the Coalition has reduced about 75% of it�s original size.

Then there will be only about 30,000 to 40,000 Coalition Forces remaining in Iraq. Now that sounds like a lot of people and it is, but it is not a lot of fighting soldiers in Armored Humvees with 50 cal. machine guns and helicopter gunships. It will still be a lot of cooks, clerks, mechanics, admin, medical and other types of non-combatants. Of course the Civilian security forces will diminish at the same rate or faster than the military. They may be mercenaries but they are not suicidal and they are not stupid. Like the Coalition will become just the US after the first half has been PULLED out. Perhaps our ever-faithful and supportive allies from down-under Australia will still number among us.

First big question to think about is this. What do you think the radical and extremist insurgents and terrorists have been doing while the first 120,000 Coalition Forces withdrew from Iraq, other than dancing in the streets, firing their AK�s in the air in what we call �celebratory fire�. Well long before the first Troop has left Iraq, starting about the time the PULLOUT announcements was made, all the extremist groups, working totally independent of one another, which they do so effectively, will start laying out their plans for conquest of territory, property, power and the national wealth of Iraq. Their plans will grow in scope along with the size of their forces during the entire PULLOUT. It will be somewhat akin to the childish game of �chicken�. Each group will wait, not wanting to commit themselves or make themselves overly vulnerable until finally one of the many terrorist or extremist groups will pull the trigger, so to speak. Then it will be a mad race of conquest by all the groups to control Iraq. Civilian casualties will be far greater than the losses suffered by the Coalition.

Keep in mind that while the Coalition is in a PULLOUT mode it will not be very well positioned for offensive operations, having it�s hands full maintaining a good defensive posture. Furthermore we will not be in a position to defend ourselves properly, let alone defend Iraqi civilians. When the shooting finally starts it will not matter whether it was Al Qaeda, Shia JAM Militia, Shia SCIRI insurgents, or any of numerous Sunni insurgent groups. Because they will all have the same self serving agenda and they will all apply any tactics and any means to see their success. You would not be reading this if you did not know about the mass casualties each of these terrorist groups has caused on a daily basis, when their activities were substantially inhibited. Let you mind wander a little and imagine what barbaric behavior and actions these groups are capable of inflicting on the innocent Iraqi citizens, Iraqi soldiers and the remaining Coalition Forces. It will make the fall of Saigon look like a Sunday afternoon picnic, by comparison.
Posted By Anonymous MAJ Dennis McCool, Baghdad, Iraq : 12:48 PM ET
Tom,

I just wonder what this war would have been like if Madeline Albright would have been in charge of the military. I saw her last night on 360 and just thought now that is a woman that can kick some you know what. You just look at her and say she isn't going to take anything from anyone. Firm but fair. Maybe that is what we need some butt kicking female generals that just know how to get things done.
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 12:58 PM ET
Not to single out one blogger but chris fr. manchester made a point that really jumps out:

staying in Iraq until we feel safe is the goal here, not Mr. Bush's personal pride. He's not backing down from his principals of fighting evil which is hard to understand but honorable.

Again, our main goal is not to "benefit the citizens of Iraq". The President's main job is to keep us safe. Doing the mission in Iraq will result in democracy being established there, to replace tyrannial rule, but that's not the main goal.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 1:17 PM ET
Great points David Fields....

Lets see some blind republican sheep answer that question and more importantly when they define victory (which was obtained in 2004 when mr Bush dropped in via parachute like a child with Victory posted everywhere)
How do we achieve it.

I just want a plan. At this point, staying the course and spending more money, killing more civiliians, providing more evidence for extremists to convert moderates, killing more troops, not stabalizing a region is NOT the answer!
Posted By Anonymous Jason in Tampa : 1:17 PM ET
Everyone talks about helping the Iraqis build after our blunder of a war, yet no one points out the fact that we've tried everything we could to do help them rebuild (free elections, reconstruction help, etc) and they've done nothing but destroy every and any bit of progress that is made. If THEY want peace, they need to stop killing each other and our troops. Even Al Sadr showed his hypocrisy with his statement today, complaining that there is no security or peace in Iraq. Meanwhile his army goes out there and sets off bombs and attacks other Iraqis and U.S. forces.

We've done all we can. It is time to let the Iraqis deal with Iraqi problems. Bring our people home now.

And to those of you so obsessed with "winning," keep in mind that many countries have "lost" wars and are still prosperous nations today. Even so, this is not a loss for us. It is a loss for the Iraqi people, because they selfishly and childishly refuse our help. They respond with violence when we ask for peace. We tell them we'll leave when the country is stable, and they continue to ensure that it remains unstable. They know they're keeping us there with their violence - it is a part of their "holy war."
Posted By Anonymous Marcero, Phoenix AZ : 1:22 PM ET
This is the kind of report that I would expect from Fox News or Pat Robertson's network. We rolled over this country (that at the time had a standing army) in 2 weeks. The chicken little reactionaries that expect us to be dogged at every point are unrealistic. We fought our way in when they knew we were coming and had minimal casualties, and then, when we are leaving, the resistance against us will be stronger? Like they will fight us to keep us there? Get real, sheeple. We have months to plan an orderly withdrawal. This report sounds like propaganda from Karl Rove's office in the White House.
Posted By Anonymous Michael E. Las Vegas, NV : 1:27 PM ET
rushing things again...rush to get in and then when things go out of control,rush to get out.what all of a sudden iraq's become a "stable democracy"???
the only reason why US should pull out of iraq is to avoid getting more soldiers killed in the war.the iraqis are dying daily as well but US presence isn't going to be able to stop sectarian violence so you might as well put a stop to ONE of the sides getting killed without any reason.
Posted By Anonymous naurah,lahore,pakistan : 1:32 PM ET
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