Global Policy Forum





The Iraq Study Group Report (December 2006)
This report warns that Iraq will "slide toward chaos" unless the US changes course and seeks more diplomatic and political solutions to providing security and stability in Iraq. The 160-page document, known as the Baker/Hamilton report, advises that the US involve Iraq's neighbors in brokering a peaceful resolution, but criticizes regional countries for "not doing enough to help Iraq achieve stability." The report does little to indicate that the US military presence in Iraq will decrease. While it does recommend a drawing down of some combat troops, the Study Group recommends that the Iraq government meet certain conditions before any troops withdraw, and refuses to set specific timeframes for departure.

Iraq VP: Blair Brainwashed by Bush (December 20, 2006)
Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi accuses the Bush administration of having "brainwashed" British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Al-Hashemi reports that he had convinced Blair of the need of a timetable for withdrawal during his last visit to Baghdad. But after discussing the matter with US President George W. Bush, Tony Blair changed his mind. This Reuters article points out that the US-UK alliance "has damaged Britain's credibility in the Middle East." Furthermore, Hashemi argues that the occupation stimulates the sectarian violence and that pulling out the foreign forces could bring the disputes between the Sunni and Shia factions to an end.

"Can't Stay the Course, Can't End the War, But We'll Call It 'Bipartisan'..." (December 7, 2006)
This comprehensive analysis of the Iraq Study Group Report notes that the recommendations fail to provide "a new way forward" in Iraq, but instead present new ideas for expanding US influence and dominance. The authors argue that the report endorses US efforts to control Iraq long-term, with the focus on "supporting (and keeping in power) the current US-backed government and its army." The report does not reflect what US citizens and the Iraqi people actually want: "a rapid and complete end to the US occupation and the troops brought home." (Foreign Policy In Focus)

Fighters Welcome Report That Advises Withdrawal of US Troops (December 7, 2006)
Members of insurgent and militia groups in Iraq have welcomed recommendations for the withdrawal of US troops by the Iraq Study Group, reports this Integrated Regional Information Networks article. Abu Baker, a member of the Sunni insurgent group Muhammad's Army, says that "the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has been one of our foremost demands since 2004." He further commented that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq "is the reason why we continue to fight, resulting in the killing of thousands of Iraqis."

Study Group to Call for Pullback (November 30, 2006)
The Iraq Study Group, a US Congress-appointed body set up to analyze the future of US involvement in the Iraq war, recommends a partial withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, but only well into the future and if certain conditions are met. The group failed to indicate a specific date for departure, in line with the Bush administration's policy. Furthermore, the group suggests that the US military role shift from combat to support and advising Iraqi security forces, indicating that a "substantial" US military force will remain in Iraq for a number of years. (Washington Post)

Allies Not Waiting for New Strategy to Announce Iraq Withdrawals (November 28, 2006)
Whilst the United States continues to debate over whether the Bush administration will withdraw US troops from Iraq, this Agence France Presse article points out that key US allied countries, including Britain, Poland and Italy, have already committed to reducing their troop numbers. As of November 2006, only 880 Polish troops remain in Iraq from the original 2,000-strong force. Similarly Italy has withdrawn all but 60 of its 3,000 troops, a strong indication that the "coalition of the willing" no longer wishes to pursue the current course in Iraq.

Bush Says No Decision on Changing Iraq Troop Levels (November 20, 2006)
Although US President George W. Bush refuses to comment on the future of US troops in Iraq, the leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation has called for greater worldwide engagement. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says he would support a US withdrawal from Iraq, if accompanied by "a broad range of political, military and social improvements." The Indonesian ruler also called for a "triple-track solution," which would include national reconciliation, global support to help solve Iraq's political and security problems, and international post-war reconstruction efforts. (Bloomberg)

Incoherence Stymies US's Iran Policy (November 16, 2006)
This Asia Times article details the obstacles that hinder the development of a clear US policy toward Iran and its uranium enrichment program. The US seems caught between its support for Israel, which fiercely opposes an Iran with the capability to make nuclear weapons, and its desire to solicit Iran's help to put an end to the violence in Iraq, which many speculate the US-commissioned Iraq Study Group will advise. The author argues that current US policy calling for the "international isolation" of Iran has left the US increasingly isolated on the world stage as the majority of its traditional European allies, including the UK, have called for engagement with Iran and Syria to help alleviate the conflict in Iraq.

Huge Task Before Iraq Study Group (November 14, 2006)
This Christian Science Monitor piece considers the possible recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a 10-member panel created by the US Congress and headed by former Secretary of State James Baker III. Due to convey their strategic assessment of Iraq to Congress by the end of 2006, the group seems unlikely to advocate for either the continuation of the current policy or an immediate withdrawal of US forces. The author concludes that a "regional roundtable meeting on Iraq's future that includes Iran and Syria" appears the most likely proposal.

Democrats Push for Troop Cuts within Months (November 13, 2006)
Democratic Party leaders say they will use their new US Congressional majority to press for the reduction of US troops in Iraq, reports this New York Times piece. According to incoming Democratic leaders, the US needs to begin "a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months." However, the Democrats' use of the term "phased redeployment" creates the misleading assumption that US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq in the near future. The term actually describes the Democrats' intention to end the indefinite commitment of military forces to Iraq and push for a fixed timetable for withdrawal.

Bush and Blair: Two Leaders Searching For a Way Out of Iraq, and Finding None (October 29, 2006)
US President George W. Bush and his strongest ally, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, face a mounting crisis over Iraq, as both leaders search for an exit strategy that will not further undermine their countries' credibility. This Independent piece suggests that Bush and Blair confront a predicament in Iraq, as a hasty withdrawal will signal defeat, whilst remaining in Iraq will further exacerbate violence and fuel public dissatisfaction. The author concludes that only two unlikely alternatives would save the embattled leaders from admitting defeat - a peace settlement between warring factions in Iraq, or a request for the withdrawal of foreign troops by Iraq's government.

Bush and Blair Isolated as Criticism of War Grows (October 18, 2006)
Although US President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair maintain that they will keep their troops in Iraq "until the job is done," their advisers now urge them to plan for a withdrawal. Even former US Secretary of State James Baker, a close friend of Bush and the chair of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) set up to deliver an independent assessment of the situation in Iraq, calls for the troops' removal. The ISG suggests moving US forces to bases outside Iraq, as well as inviting Iran and Syria to cooperate in the stabilization of the country. As the author of this Independent article points out, Iraq cannot establish lasting democracy while the occupying forces remain in the country.

Experts Divided on Iraq Solution (October 9, 2006)
Whilst the Bush administration advocates "staying the course" in Iraq, political experts examine the various methods for removing US troops and the ramifications that may follow. This San Francisco Chronicle piece discusses the issues of Iraqi federalism, Iran's influence in Iraq, the possibility of a full-scale civil war and the rise in jihadism in the context of a hypothetical US withdrawal. As the author points out, continued US presence cannot improve Iraq's stability as the US-led occupation only increases terrorist attacks and sectarian violence.

Most Iraqis Want US Troops Out within a Year (September 27, 2006)
A recent World Public Opinion poll shows that the majority of Iraqis want US armed forces to withdraw from their country, claiming their departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence. 91 percent of Sunnis and 74 percent of Shias favor withdrawal within a year, with many believing the US government has deliberately thrown their country into chaos. These statistics, the most damning since the US-led invasion in 2003, contradict statements by the Iraqi and US governments that US forces have the support of the Iraqi people.

The Iraq War: Mission Impossible (September 12, 2006)
This Der Spiegel piece suggests that, by ousting Saddam Hussein and invading Iraq, the US has exposed its vulnerabilities as a military force. Its failure to maintain stability and subdue violence in Iraq reveals the limits of the world's only "superpower." The author also points out that US occupation in Iraq has already outlasted US involvement in both the Korean War and World War II, and threatens to rival the military and moral quagmire of Vietnam.

The US View of Iraq: We Can Pull Out in a Year (August 31, 2006)
Despite ongoing attacks from militias and resistance in Iraq, US General George Casey predicts the 260,000 trained and uniformed Iraqi troops can take primary responsibility for security within 12 to 18 months. But as the author highlights, Casey did not speak specifically of withdrawal, as a timetable for the removal of US troops will more likely depend on US President George Bush's political fortunes than military planning. (Guardian)

Finish What Job? (August 22, 2006)
President George W. Bush has emphasized that US forces will not leave Iraq "before the job is done." The Administration has put forward numerous rationales for remaining in Iraq, including building a democratic society, providing transitional security and preventing terrorism. In tying together several US objectives in one vital "job," this Los Angeles Times opinion piece argues Bush aims to make it harder for critics of an "open-ended US commitment" to question any particular goal.

The US in Iraq: Part of the Problem (August 21, 2006)
This article analyzes the basic fallacy guiding the Bush administration - that the US presence in Iraq helps rather than hinders the country. As Tom Engelhardt convincingly argues, the US occupation of Iraq reflects a "deep-seated imperial mindset" that has plagued the Bush administration and those preceding it. As the violence continues to worsen in Iraq, Engelhardt asks when the US will realize they are part of the problem and not the solution. (TomDispatch)

A Timetable Isn't an Exit Strategy (August 6, 2006)
This New York Times editorial warns that the US may keep troops in Iraq "for the next 29 months" and leave the next administration "to clean up the mess." The situation in Iraq has deteriorated markedly, with sectarian violence claiming over 100 lives each day. The author argues that US President George Bush should not abdicate his responsibility for reconstruction, but instead withdraw US troops and enlist the help of other countries "whose opinions and suggestions were scornfully ignored before the invasion."

Bush's Double Game on an Iraq Withdrawal Timetable (July 18, 2006)
While publicly arguing that a timetable for withdrawal would "play into the hands of terrorists," the Bush administration has held secret peace negotiations with "insurgent groups" in Iraq. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani have met with representatives of armed organizations on numerous occasions. During the talks, Khalizad recognized the Sunni insurgents as "nationalists" and explicitly accepted the need for a time schedule. (Inter Press Service)

Japan to Withdraw Its Troops From Iraq (June 20, 2006)
Tokyo will pull out its 600 soldiers stationed in southern Iraq. A majority of the Japanese public opposed sending troops to Iraq, which was "more important politically than militarily." The small deployment gave Washington the comfort of having another ally present in Iraq, while allowing Tokyo to establish the precedent of sending troops into a hostile environment. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi portrayed the mission as "strictly humanitarian" to conform with the country's pacifist constitution which prohibits Japan from using force to resolve international disputes. (Los Angeles Times)

Let's Stay in Iraq Until it's Peaceful or We're Sane, Whichever Comes First (June 7, 2006)
Anthony Arnove's book, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, argues that "staying the course in Iraq" makes no sense. Arnove refutes all the major claims against immediate withdrawal, stating that the US presence has failed to "bring democracy to Iraq," and that the number of incidents of violence and terrorism continue to increase. (ZNet)

Blair Has Been Blinded by an Imperialist Illusion (May 31, 2006)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked the UK to leave the country by the end of 2006, a much speedier and more ambitious schedule than the UK and US have so far admitted to. As this Guardian article argues, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has no conceivable right to refuse Maliki's request. A decision to withdraw only at the moment of Blair's choosing would be arrogant and imperialistic.

Host Springs Surprise for PM (May 23, 2006)
With the formation of a permanent unity government – as demanded by US and UK officials as the basis for any troop reduction – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced his plans for a US and UK withdrawal. At a joint press conference with visiting British Prime Minster Tony Blair, Maliki said Iraqi forces would assume responsibility for British-held provinces by June 2006. Furthermore, he expects all US, UK and other foreign troops to withdraw by the end of 2006. US and British officials, caught off guard by Maliki's comments, have avoided specific timetables, and plan to maintain troops in Iraq for the next four to ten years. (Guardian)

National Sovereignty and Military Occupation Not Compatible (May 3, 2006)
Following the nomination of Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister, commentators constantly repeat the need for Iraq's government to overcome sectarian divisions, political deadlock, and a "brewing civil war." Yet as this article points out, Iraq cannot achieve national sovereignty and political legitimacy as long as the US-led occupation continues. Violence, corruption and sectarianism have all sprung from the military occupation, and will persist so long as it continues, despite the best efforts of Maliki or any other Iraqi politician. (Uruknet)

The Logic of Withdrawal (March 20, 2006)
After three years of war in Iraq, a majority of both Iraqi and US citizens disapprove of the occupation and favor a timetable for withdrawal. Nonetheless, the anti-war movement has lost some of its luster and faces a "massive propaganda campaign" in support of the war. In this article, Anthony Arnove of ZNet confronts the idea that the US must "stay the course," arguing that the anti-war movement must remain strong in demanding an immediate withdrawal. The US had no right to invade Iraq to begin with, Arnove argues, and has since failed to "bring" democracy or prevent civil war in Iraq.

UK Troops ‘Could Begin Iraq Withdrawal in Weeks' (March 7, 2006)
According to Lieutenant General Nick Houghton, the ranking British officer in Iraq, British troops may begin to gradually withdraw from Iraq. Noting that Britain's withdrawal depends primarily on the progression of Iraq's government and military, Houghton indicated that withdrawal would take place in stages, and that most of the UK's 8,000 troops would exit Iraq by summer 2008. A "residual" force will remain in Iraq, Houghton said, that can "maintain a low profile." (Guardian)

Why Leave Iraq: A Brief Summary (March 5, 2006)
In this article, psychologist Stephen Soldz revisits the Bush administration's justifications for invading Iraq and argues in favor of withdrawal. The US and UK manipulated intelligence and invaded Iraq in "defiance of the United Nations Charter." After three years of occupation, over 100,000 have died as a result, and living conditions have declined. With Iraqis, US troops and the US public increasingly opposed to the war, Soldz concludes, it's time for the US to end the occupation. (ZNet)

US Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006 (February 28, 2006)
29 percent US troops stationed in Iraq say the US should withdraw immediately and 72 percent the US should leave by the end of 2006. Though 93 percent believe that the US military did not invade Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction, 85 percent believe the US invaded "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9/11 attacks." 42 percent of troops believe the US role in Iraq is "hazy." (Zogby International)

World Public Says Iraq War has Increased Global Terrorist Threat (February 28, 2006)
The BBC conducted a survey of nearly 42,000 people in 35 countries about their opinions of the US-led war in Iraq. In 20 out of the 35 surveyed countries, the majority say the US military should withdraw from Iraq in the next few months. In addition, the majority of people in 33 out of 35 countries, representing 60 percent of all those surveyed, believe the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism.

Bringing the United Nations Back In (February 21, 2006)
The US should withdraw from Iraq. Given the escalation of violence under US occupation, the argument that "guerillas would take advantage of a timetable…is frankly silly." According to Professor Juan Cole, the UN enjoys much greater political legitimacy in the Middle East than the US, and, he argues, an expanded UN role along with a US withdrawal, which Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has demanded, could help establish a "new situation" in which peace can prosper. (Informed Comment)

Ending Occupation (January 11, 2006)
The global peace movement has succeeded in mobilizing opposition to the Iraq war. While politicians, the media, and public opinion increasingly argue for a US withdrawal from Iraq, US President George Bush has only alluded to nominal troop reductions. According to Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, the occupation will end only when the US removes all foreign troops, including private military contractors, closes all of its bases in Iraq, and returns economic control to the Iraqi people without interference from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.



Resolution 1637 (November 8, 2005)
The Security Council unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the US-led multinational force (MNF) in Iraq and to also extend the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) until December 31, 2006. Both mandates would have expired with the end of the transitional government, but Washington pushed for an early renewal, ahead of the December 15 parliamentary elections.

Ukrainian Troops in Iraq Start Final Phase of Withdrawal (December 20, 2005)
Ukraine will withdraw the remaining 876 of its original 1,650 troops in Iraq by December 30, 2005. Ukraine's contribution to the US-led occupation has steadily dwindled in response to rising death tolls and public disapproval of the war. In addition to Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, South Korea, Italy and Poland have also made plans to withdraw from Iraq. In March 2003, 50,000 troops from 37 countries joined 250,000 US troops in invading Iraq. After two and a half years, that number has dropped to 24,000 mostly non-combat personnel from 27 countries. (Associated Press)

Bulgaria Begins Withdrawing Troops from Iraq (December 16, 2005)
In response to strong public opposition to the war, Bulgaria's Parliament voted in May 2005 to withdraw from the US-led occupation of Iraq. By December 31, Bulgaria's 334 troops will join Ukrainian troops in departing from Iraq. Though initially hoping to withdraw in June, the Bulgarian government agreed to stay until after Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections. (Reuters)

No Elections Will Be Credible While Occupation Continues (December 15, 2005)
In light of Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections, Harith al-Dari, Secretary General of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, reflects on the state of Iraqi politics and society. Given the brutality and illegality of the US-led occupation, and its centrality in fueling conflict, coalition forces must withdraw for the political process in Iraq to succeed. (Guardian)

Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive in Iraq (December 2, 2005)
In response to increasing criticism of the Iraq war and calls for withdrawal from the US public, President George Bush has insisted on a continued occupation and "complete victory" against the Iraqi insurgency. While Bush maintains that the "enemy" consists of foreign-born, Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, disaffected Sunnis, and loyalists of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the New York Times points out that the Iraqi insurgency is much more diverse and complex. Resembling more of a "constellation" than an organization, the Iraqi insurgency's fragmented nature paradoxically ensures its survival, rendering the notion of "complete victory" little more than empty rhetoric.

If America Left Iraq (December 2005)
In this question and answer piece from the Atlantic Monthly, Nir Rosen of the New America Foundation argues for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. As the Iraqi insurgency is driven primarily by the presence of occupation forces, a US pullout would not precipitate civil war or bolster the insurgency. Though it may take decades for Iraq to emerge from the "current maelstrom," the continued US presence ensures that an Iraqi recovery will be later rather than sooner.

Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for US Pullout (November 22, 2005)
Iraq's Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish leaders convened at an Arab League-backed reconciliation conference in Cairo, Egypt. Despite ongoing sectarian rivalry in Iraq, the conference provided a valuable forum for dialogue in the run-up to the December 15 parliamentary elections. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani pledged to meet with insurgents if they put down their weapons, while delegates affirmed the right to resist foreign occupation and called on the US to implement a timetable for withdrawal. (New York Times)

UN Approval Sought To Extend Iraq Stay (November 8, 2005)
The US, Britain, Japan, Denmark and Romania have presented a Security Council draft resolution renewing the mandate of US-led military forces in Iraq until December 2006. US Ambassador John Bolton, who leads the effort, hopes to pass the resolution ahead of Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections to avoid any "issues" in the event that the new Iraqi government will request the withdrawal of occupation forces. (Washington Post)

Administration's Tone Signals a Longer, Broader Iraq Conflict (October 17, 2005)
As conflict in Iraq wears on, Washington has been forced to reevaluate its policy of imposing democracy. Even with parliamentary elections and a constitutional referendum, Iraq's security has not improved. With few democratic landmarks remaining, the Bush administration is now confronted with the prospect of a continued occupation following Iraq's December elections. (New York Times)

Why Immediate Withdrawal Makes Sense (September 22, 2005)
In this forceful analysis, Professor Michael Shwartz argues that the US military should immediately pull out of Iraq, not gradually withdraw. At roughly 25,000 casualties a year, he calculates that US violence towards Iraqi civilians is much more deadly than violence between Iraqis. Further, in the absence of a US presence, Sunni hard-line insurgents would no longer have an argument for targeting Shiites as supporters of the US occupation. The US presence is not only the main source of civilian casualties, he argues, it is also the "primary contributor to the threat of civil war in Iraq." (TomDispatch)

US Tempers its View of Victory in Iraq (September 16, 2005)
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the ongoing conflict in Iraq is forcing the US to change its outlook. Despite having proclaimed a "Mission Accomplished" in May 2003, the Bush administration has maintained troop levels without making plans for their withdrawal. This comes in response to the "ideological insistence" that US troops would be welcomed and the unforeseen resistance that has actually resulted.

Looking for Peace in Iraq (September 14, 2005)
Foreign Policy in Focus compares the Iraqi resistance to an onion. Around the core of active resistance fighters are numerous layers of support, collaboration, and acquiescence. According to this op-ed piece, "the primary cause for these layers of support is opposition to the US occupation." Peace in Iraq can only be restored when the US withdraws its military and halts the construction of permanent bases.

Calling US Troops "Occupation Forces," Iraqis Seek Timetable for Exit (September 13, 2005)
Iraqi legislators have called for the withdrawal of foreign troops. In a report authored by the National Sovereignty Committee of the National Assembly, legislators affirmed that Iraq's sovereignty cannot be fully achieved so long as "occupation forces" remain. Some see the statement, coming from a committee made up mostly of Shiites and Kurds, as an attempt to reach out to Iraq's Sunni population. (Knight Ridder)

Talabani Lines Up With Bush on Iraq Troop Pullout (September 13, 2005)
In a joint news conference with US President George W. Bush, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced that there will be no timeline for the US withdrawal from Iraq. His comments came shortly after declaring that US troop levels could be reduced by as many as 50,000 by the end of the year. Though the US plans to increase its presence by 2,000 troops for the October 15 constitutional referendum, Talabani maintains hope that Iraqi security forces can begin replacing US troops by the end of 2006. (Reuters)

Operation Homecoming: How to End the Iraq War (September 13, 2005)
Erik Leaver of YES! Magazine argues that ending the US occupation in Iraq is the only way peace and reconstruction can progress. US withdrawal will quell the resistance, he says, easing sectarian differences and allowing a more secular variety of Iraqi nationalism to prevail. To ensure stability in the immediate term, the author supports the involvement of a temporary multinational peacekeeping force backed by the UN and the Arab League.

Big Guns for Iraq? Not So Fast. (August 28, 2005)
The US faces a military dilemma in Iraq. It does not want to provide the Iraqi army with military hardware such as tanks, aircraft, and armored vehicles, for fear that insurgents will use them against US troops. However, the reluctance to supply Iraqis with these weapons means that the US will maintain a presence in the country well into the future, supposedly as a "bulwark against chaos." Also, the military is currently building four "semi-permanent" bases in Iraq, which adds to speculation that troops will remain in Iraq for many years. (New York Times)

US "May Stay in Iraq for Four Years" (August 22, 2005)
The Army's Chief of Staff has said that the US may keep over 100,000 troops in Iraq for four more years. The article notes that this statement "apparently contradicts recent White House noises about a gradual pull-out." The article also says that opinion polls increasingly show declining support for the war among US citizens. (Independent)

In Iraq, No Clear Finish Line (August 12, 2005)
The Bush administration has been issuing contradictory messages regarding US troop reductions in Iraq. While officials candidly discuss withdrawing 30,000 troops by spring 2006, the President denies "rumors" of a draw-down. According to the Washington Post, the administration wants to shore up its waning popularity by assuring US voters that the war will not continue endlessly. On the other hand, the US military does not want to withdraw troops from Iraq while the insurgency rages, even though commanders admit that US forces cannot defeat it.

US-led Troops in Iraq Part of Problem – UK's Straw (August 2, 2005)
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw believes that the British and US occupation of Iraq is fueling the insurgency. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said that the UK would draw down troops once an Iraqi constitution was in place. (Reuters)

Our Troops are Part of the Problem (July 15, 2005)
Former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook argues that US troops' "trigger-happy approach" to combating the Iraqi insurgency is in fact fueling the insurgency. He therefore approves of the Pentagon's plans in the leaked UK memo of July 2005 for a "bold reduction" in US troops, even though President George Bush's administration is pursuing a draw-down of troops purely for domestic political reasons. (Guardian)

An Effective US Exit Strategy from Iraq (July 15, 2005)
Helena Cobban argues for an effective, speedy, and negotiated withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. She says that policymakers in Washington will eventually see this as the "least bad" of the options confronting them, and she offers a nine-point plan explaining how they can put this strategy into practice. (Just World News)

Iraq: Does Britain's Secret Memo on Withdrawal Indicate a Weakening of Resolve? (July 12, 2005)
Iraq analyst Toby Dodge believes that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush intend to "stay the course" in Iraq, despite revelations in a secret UK memo that London and Washington plan to draw down troops by 2006. Dodge also says that US and UK policies in Iraq have strengthened feelings of "localism" in Iraq's regions, which could lead to Kurdish and Shi'ite separatist movements and the eventual breakup of the country. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Allawi: This Is the Start of Civil War (July 10, 2005)
Former Interim President of Iraq Iyad Allawi has criticized the US's lack of vision in Iraq. The "long-time ally of Washington" said that Iraq has collapsed as a state, and complained that the US has not delivered the promised funds to rebuild the Iraqi army. Nevertheless, he believes that US troops should stay in the country until Iraq "develops the capability to deal with threats." (Sunday Times)

Experts: No Good Options for Iraq (July 7, 2005)
Knight Ridder surveys mainstream expert opinion on some future options for the US military presence in Iraq. It describes the pros and cons of rapid withdrawal, gradual withdrawal, military escalation, and "staying the course." Opponents of military withdrawal say that it would leave Iraq a failed state. However, others cast doubt on the viability of military escalation and "staying the course," citing declining troop levels and the US army's failure to rebuild the country and weaken the insurgency.

An Iraqi Peace Process (June 29, 2005)
In Part II of a two-part series, Robert Dreyfuss explains how the United States can withdraw from Iraq by entering into direct negotiations with the legitimate, non-terrorist resistance and bypassing the interim Iraqi government. He offers suggestions on how the US can build confidence as a prelude to such talks, and advocates that the UN, during the actual conference, "run the show." (TomPaine)

The Vietnam Solution (June 28, 2005)
In Part I of a two-part series, Robert Dreyfuss argues that the United States should learn a lesson from its Vietnam debacle and withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible. He says that the US "must abandon its deformed offspring in Baghdad, the hapless regime of Shiite fanatics and Kurdish warlords, and pray that it can establish direct talks with the people it is fighting." If the US delays withdrawal, it will waste billions of dollars and needlessly cause the deaths of thousands of US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis. (TomPaine)

At Iraqi Request, the UN Extends Approval for US-Led Forces to Stay (June 1, 2005)
The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved extending the mandate of US-led forces in Iraq beyond the end of 2005. The approval came in a private, closed-door consultation with no open discussion of the matter. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari asked for and strongly endorsed the continued presence of "multinational forces," calling them "friendly forces [...] helping us to establish security, carrying out missions in the interests of the Iraqi people, and under the authority of the government." (New York Times)

House Kills First Vote on Iraq Withdrawal (May 26, 2005)
The US House of Representatives voted down a measure calling on President George W. Bush to devise a plan for withdrawing from Iraq. Despite the overwhelming 128 to 300 defeat, the measure "marks the first time that Congress has officially voted and debated legislation that deals with a withdrawal." (

Generals Offer Sober Outlook on Iraqi War (May 19, 2005)
Retreating from earlier suggestions that US troops might begin withdrawing from Iraq as soon as 2006, US military commanders say involvement could last "many years." The top US military officer in the Middle East said one of the problems "was the disappointing progress in developing Iraqi police units cohesive enough to mount an effective challenge to insurgents." Another officer in Baghdad said the US enterprise in Iraq "could still fail." (New York Times)

Over There (May 10, 2005)
Fred Kaplan of Slate lays out the evidence that the US will not leave Iraq anytime soon. He points to two US government documents which suggest that, in the eyes of Washington, "Iraqi leaders have a long way to go [...] before they can rebuild their country, secure order, stabilize their regime, and protect their borders without a large American military presence." Kaplan includes reconstruction statistics which show how little of the money provided by the US for infrastructure projects is actually spent, either due to mismanagement or poor security.

A Hole in Bush's Iraq Exit Strategy (April 19, 2005)
While US administration and military officials suggest that significant troop reductions might take place in early 2006 due to progress in training Iraqi security forces, BusinessWeek says the Iraqi police force is "fraught with bigger problems than reports by US officials might suggest." US government data categorizes less than 40 percent of the 142,000-strong force as "ready for service." Further, "there are tens of thousands [of Iraqi police] on the payroll who aren't working," according to a former senior advisor to Iraq's Interior Minister.

US Commanders See Possible Cut in Troops in Iraq (April 11, 2005)
Senior US military officials say that due to "positive developing trends" in the fight against the Iraqi insurgency, the Pentagon plans "significant troop reductions" by early 2006. But US troop commanders stress that "we don't want a rush to failure," and that any withdrawal timetable depends on how quickly Iraqi forces can take over security duties. Military officials say US troop levels "could drop to around 105,000" from the 142,000 currently stationed in Iraq. (New York Times)

Winning the Unwinnable War (January/February 2005)
James Dobbins argues that "insurgencies are defeated not by killing insurgents, but by winning the support of the population." By failing to do so, "the Bush administration has already lost the war." Only moderate Iraqis, working independently of the US and with the help of neighboring states, can salvage Iraq. For this to happen, says Dobbins, the US must disengage and withdraw as soon as possible. (Foreign Affairs)

Army Plans to Keep Iraq Troop Level Through '06 (January 25, 2005)
US troop strength will remain at levels of approximately 120,000-150,000 in Iraq for at least two more years, according to the US Army's top operations officer. The Army is also seeking ways to further tap into reserve forces, even though military leaders warn that the Pentagon could be running out of such units. As a solution, US Army officials plan on petitioning Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to extend the 24-month limit on the total time a reservist could be called to active duty. (Washington Post)

Iraq's Perilous Election and the Need for Exit Strategies (January 17, 2005)
On the eve of Iraq's elections, the US-led coalition faces an insurgency numbering as many as 200,000 fighters and supporters. Large areas of key districts are too unsafe to vote in, and no viable Iraqi security force exists. Given this situation, the US must seriously consider withdrawing from the country. (Power and Interest News Report)

Would it Make Sense to Just Leave Iraq? (January 3, 2005)
This article considers the political and moral consequences of a US retreat from Iraq and argues that, "rather than surveying the wreckage of our Iraqi policy" it would be better to simply leave. But a pullout from Iraq requires an unlikely White House confession that it should never have invaded the country, seriously damaging Washington's credibility and possibly causing "even Israel […] to doubt our reliability." (Washington Post)


You Break It, You Pay For It (December 22, 2004)
Naomi Klein ridicules US foreign policy in Iraq and its adherence to the so-called "Pottery Barn rule," better known as "you break it, you own it." Washington argues that having gone into Iraq, US troops must now provide security and prevent anarchy. But the Pottery Barn rule simply serves as further justification for the continuing occupation of Iraq. Klein stresses that "having broken Iraq, the US is not in the process of fixing it" and calls for adequate compensation for the shattered country. (Nation)

Castles Built of Sand: US Governance and Exit Strategies in Iraq (Fall 2004)
This report analyzes possible scenarios for handover of power and various exit strategies, which the US considered before and during the occupation of Iraq. The main step in the handover of power took the form of a "transfer of sovereignty" on June 28, 2004. But it was incomplete as an exit strategy and the US needs to take several more steps to create an Iraq with legitimate institutions. (Middle East Research and Information Project)

Gloat at US Failures, and While You're at It Wish Iraq the Worst (October 14, 2004)
This Daily Star article questions whether a US pullout from Iraq is desirable and warns that the opposition's smug observation of a stumbling empire will not benefit Iraqis. The weak Iraqi government cannot fill the vacuum that US occupiers would leave behind and the country would plunge into civil war.

Blair Jumps the Gun on Iraqi Veto (May 26, 2004)
A rift between the White House and Downing Street emerged on the status of forces in Iraq after June 30, 2004 as Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that the Iraqi Interim Government could veto any US-led military operations. However, Washington insists that the "multinational force" will continue conducting military operations in the country with or without consent from the new government. (Guardian)

Powell Says Troops Would Leave Iraq if New Leaders Asked (May 15, 2004)
French, Russian and Italian officials assert that an "effective transfer of power" to an Iraqi transitional government includes ceding control of Iraqi security forces and granting Iraq the authority to halt military action by US-led forces. US Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected that notion, saying that Iraqi and International forces will remain under US command. (Washington Post)

Generals in Iraq Consider Options for More Troops (April 6, 2004)
Uprisings throughout Iraq prompted US Senior Commander General John Abizaid to request a contingency plan increasing the number of US troops in Iraq. As the June 30, 2004 "transfer of sovereignty" date approaches, can the US-led coalition stabilize security in the country? (New York Times)


Bush on Middle East "Democracy" & "Ending Occupation" in Iraq (November 18, 2003)
Phyllis Bennis offers several factors that influenced Washington's decision to pull out of Iraq earlier than planned. Bennis also urges the UN not to support to the occupation, but instead to plan an active role on the ground after the coalition departs. (Institute for Policy Studies)

Toward a Strategy for Success in Iraq (August 25, 2003)
This report argues against US Congress members calling for more troops in Iraq and insists that the US must establish a fixed timeline for the complete withdrawal of military forces and the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. (Fourth Freedom Forum)

'Bring Us Home': GIs Flood US With War-Weary Emails (August 10, 2003)
US soldiers in Iraq wage an unprecedented e-mail campaign, telling family and friends about the risks they now face in Iraq. Soldiers' families strongly criticize Bush administration handling of the war's aftermath and power a campaign to bring the soldiers home. (Observer)

Annan Asks for Timetable on US Withdrawal (July 20, 2003)
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, calls on US-led forces in Iraq to set out a "clear timetable" for a staged withdrawal. He also notes that numerous Iraqis have told UN officials that "democracy should not be imposed from the outside." (New York Times)

A Call for International Assistance, Not Isolation (July 10, 2003)
Senator Robert Byrd calls President Bush's vague assurances about the timely withdrawal of US troops Orwellian "doublespeak." He asserts that the Bush administration failed to plan adequately for a post-war Iraq and that its fatal error was not building international support before launching its pre-emptive strike. (Truthout)

End US Occupation Now (July 10, 2003)
Henry Targ argues that the US should negotiate the complete withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq. Targ feels that replacing coalition troops with an international peace force under the aegis of the United Nations would better serve the interests of all concerned parties. (USA Today)



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