AP is reporting that the Obama Administration will opt for a 19-month timetable for leaving Iraq. I’m told that the President will give a speech on Friday. The withdrawal will still leave 30-50,000 U.S. troops in place to continue training the Iraqi military and for special ops. There will, no doubt, be carping from the right–and perhaps some from the left, given the size of the residual force–but the situation in Iraq has improved and a fairly rapid draw-down is not only practicable but necessary. The Army and Marines remain over-deployed, there are budgetary considerations and the Af/Pak situation obviously has become a higher military priority. There are still serious problems in Iraq, especially along the Arab-Kurd border in the north, but nothing like the chaos that existed two years ago and the recent elections show a very positive nationalist and, to a lesser extent, secularist trend.
In any case, a dreadful chapter in the history of American policy–a bloody war of choice launched thoughtlessly–seems to be coming to a close.