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November 22, 2005

Americans "Feed" Withdrawal Timetable to Iraqi Conference
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

So says leading Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, according to Juan Cole.

Over the past few weeks, a number of progressive activists, funders and even politicians have been insisting that there was no way that the Administration would pull troops out of Iraq next year.  (From Derek two months ago, to Suzanne last week, and me in between, DemocracyArsenal gets a big pat on the back for calling it like we saw it -- early and often.)

NOW do you get it, people?

Don't get me wrong -- Iraqi reconciliation is a good thing.  Iraqis agreeing on taking responsibility for their own security -- and even agreeing with the US on when that should happen -- is also a good thing.  If this works I will grudgingly admit that it was a pretty skillful maneuver.

According to Al-Hayat, the timetable is a little more specific than we've heard in English-language media -- all troops out by November 2007 (it can even slip a little and still beat the primaries!).  And, participants said, it came from US officials. 

But wildly dishonest to be working this pragmatic angle while insisting there's no end in sight and savaging war critics who propose something similar.

And likely to leave progressives in even bigger disarray.


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UPDATE: Did this proposal come from the U.S.? From Americablog This is an extremely bizarre and rather earth-shattering story. Basically, Iraq's leaders want us out, and they seem to have just endorsed Congressman Murtha's proposal for a timed withdraw... [Read More]


This is similar to Nixon's strategy during Vietnamization: pull out, while questioning the patriotism of those who suggested pulling out. See the recent article in the LRB on the vilification of Jane Fonda.

If Zal Khalilzad or some other lunkhead in the US palace was "feeding" Iraqis a notion of complete pullout by end of 2007, wouldn't some loose-lipped leaker point this out to start a media frenzy? A pullout is inevitable, and has many have pointed out, Murtha wouldn't have started squawking unless his General buddies hadn't started griping. I think the Iraqis surely think they can establish some measure of legitimacy before the end of 2007. That is not to suggest they will get a better handle on deploying a coherent fighting force, but rather their ability to protect oil and other sources of cash flow (with private militias and/or mercs). Take the US troops out of the equation and the Ba'athist/Nationalist insurgents are removed as a major threat overnight. Increasingly, the Iraqi parties see the US as standing in their way of plundering the country for their own benefit. They don't need the US to feed them on this count.


Where does it remotely say anything like "Americans 'Feed' Withdrawal Timetable to Iraqi Conference" in Juan Cole's post you cite?

The word "feed" isn't even on his blog between the dates of November 15, 2005, and November 22, 2005. Though I can see plenty of references to Iraqi leaders' desire for a timetable, I cannot see anything about Americans advising or hinting to Iraqi factions on this score -- and it's the title of your post!

Sorry to flame you, but I believe in your guys' credibility and I don't want it wrecked because you put up an unsupported factual claim like this.

Please correct me if I'm wrong or confused.

Nobody has questioned the patriotism of anybody. What has been questioned and condemned was falsely accusing the administration of misrepresenting the intel which indicated that Saddam had WMD.

The Dems are using this as a CYA strategy to divert attention from the fact that so many of them voted to authorize the war and were saying the same thing before Bush was elected.

This "questioning the patriotism" hogwash is just an extension of their original lie.

Andrew, from Cole's third paragraph:

This timetable, al-Hayat says, appears actually to have been put forward by the Americans themselves.

He does not say if al-Hayat offers further sourcing.

I corresponded with Juan Cole and he confirmed that Heather's post had it right and that al Hayat was told that the Administration was the source of the late 2007 deadline.

What has been questioned and condemned was falsely accusing the administration of misrepresenting the intel which indicated that Saddam had WMD.

Spare us the indignation. Do we really need to go over all the statements made by administration officials that were untrue at the time they were made? Like Condi's claims about the aluminum tubes?

Do you want to know how the Bush administration can convince me they weren't willfully lying? Arrest Chalabi, for starters. Then actually investigate where the Niger forgeries came from. But instead of that, Bush has launched Operation Smokescreen. Gee, I wonder why people think he is full of it?

Space, here is advice that I often fail to follow myself:

AST would not make his claims unless he knew something about the situation. So he isn't uninformed, and he isn't just stupid. He's a baldfaced liar.

So what result can you expect if you refute him? More lies. He will lie to you as long as you keep responding.

Better to just let him lie there.

Hey, great you caught my inability to read. My mistake, no excuses. Flame extinguished.

And Suzanne even went so far as to follow up with Dr. Cole. Even better than I could have hoped.

Confidence restored.

I would also suggest caution about the idea that the withdrawal demand was somehow the result of a U.S. initiative. Both Bob Dreyfuss and I have written about the background and dynamics of the Cairo Conference (for my article, see,
and the withdrawal demand clearly has distinctly Iraqi roots. Juan Cole suggests that the Shiite party leaders are worried about appearing to be for both peace and an end to the occupation in order to position themselves for the December 15 election. I agree with that, but I also believe that both Kurds and Shiites cannot be insensitive to the evidence that there is no domestic political base for a continuation of the U.S. military presence much beyond 2006. U.S. and Iraqi domestic politics have now begun to interact,I suggest, creating a new dynamic that will exert pressures for both U.S. withdrawal and peace negotiations in Iraq. That creates new opportunities for opponents of the war to take the initiative by insisting on U.S. support for negotiations.

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