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Obama Sets End of Iraq Combat For August 31st 659

eldavojohn writes "President Barack Obama has announced that on August 31st the United States will cease all combat operations in Iraq, although 50,000 troops will remain until the end of 2011. It's been a long seven-and-a-half years, with no guarantee of this announcement actually signifying the end of violence. Pundits are already speculating on whether or not this withdrawal speech is 'Mission Accomplished 2.' It's possibly the most significant confirmation of and commitment to a withdrawal the world will hear from the United States in Iraq."
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Obama Sets End of Iraq Combat For August 31st

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  • Finally (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Maarx ( 1794262 )
    It's about time.
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:23PM (#33112486)
      More like just in time for the November elections...
      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bonch ( 38532 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:46PM (#33112850)

        It's a cynical attempt to try to do something to try to stop the spiraling poll numbers for him and the Democrats. Yet we're still leaving troops there--commitment is "changing," not ending--and the war in Afghanistan is bloodier than ever (worse than it was under Bush) so it's not really going to do anything. It's also an attempt to distract people from the ethics trials of two Democrats in the House.

        Some pundits are predicting the biggest GOP majority since 1946. We'll see. All I know is, this Democrat supermajority fucking sucks, obsessing over socialized healthcare for a year instead of jobs. And now, our buddies in the UK are decentralizing their healthcare because the quality of their socialized healthcare sucks. Obama's whole first year was a pointless waste.

        It's like the last two years have been an example of how idealistic liberalism fails in practice. Obama flies around the world apologizing to everyone for our existence to match the image of the enlightened intellectual, yet people in the rest of the world continue to hate us and are openly making nukes. Spends money on stimulus packages that do little except increase the debt, furthering our financial troubles. Constantly goes back on promises made during his campaign. And on and on.

        Most people, when times are tough, tighten their belts and lower their expenses to save money until things get better. Why Obama chose to expand government and increase spending in a recession is disappointing but not surprising.

        • Re:Finally (Score:4, Insightful)

          by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @02:18PM (#33113326)

          You do realize that Obamacare is neither socialized nor centralized, right?


        • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kevinNCSU ( 1531307 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @02:36PM (#33113628)

          As a conservative I'd like to point out your argument about the Afghanistan war becoming bloodier under Obama and this surge of troops is the same argument many liberals used during the Iraq Surge. Guess what, when you send more troops in to take and hold ground and fight the enemy more troops get hurt. But that doesn't mean the strategy is a failure. It's a war, if you want to win people end up dying before that happens.

          It's absofuckinglutely ridiculous that the vehement liberals razed Petraeus for the surge under the Bush administration and now the right wingers want to make the same mistake and go AGAINST the commanders on the ground just so they can bash a Dem President. Keep your political bashing out of war strategy, the lives of our troops and future of those countries is more important than scoring political points.

          • Re:Finally (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @03:00PM (#33114014) Homepage

            Iraq and Afghanistan are different situations. In Afghanistan, there is actual territory being lost and won. Having extra military forces to hold our position against the Taleban advances -- yes, actual advances by the enemy -- is very useful. In Iraq, the whole country is "ours" and the enemy lives there and attacks entirely from within. There, extra troops are mostly just extra targets for surprise attacks. There's no hard line, like nothing happening in Iraq happens in Afghanistan, but for certain there are no cases in Iraq of a definable enemy swooping in and taking a town that we had previously won.

            So to me, it makes a lot more sense to be critical of the "surge" in Iraq vs the "surge" in Afghanistan. Especially considering how neglected Afghanistan had been for so many years.

            However, the most important and effective -- yet least talked about -- aspect of Petraeus' Iraqi surge was the attempts to engage the insurgents in general and in particular the Sunnis, basically buying them off and convincing them that Al Qaeda in Iraq was our mutual enemy (with AQ conveniently helping us out in this regard by helping Sunnis get killed). This and other efforts actually gave them the sense that they had some role in and stake in the future of Iraq. Convincing the Sunnis to stop fighting us through non-violent means did far more to decrease the violence than the extra troops did. It was a great, the kind that could have made a real difference if deployed early on in Iraq.

            With Petraeus in charge, I'm hoping that in addition to the actually-helpful-cus-it's-actually-kinda-like-a-real-war troop increases, there will also be much more behind-the-scenes dealing with Taleban factions that may come around to our side. There's been talk of this in the news, and hopefully there will be real effects.

            Where the hell was Petraeus when we invaded these countries?!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

            Keep your political bashing out of war strategy, the lives of our troops [..] [are] more important than scoring political points.

            You want to save the lives of our troops? Pull them out. Right now. It's a little tough for Afghanis to kill them if they aren't in-country. Right now, they're dying for exactly one major reason: To benefit corporate interests here. They're not protecting us; and they're doing damned little for anyone in Afghanistan. They are the lever arm for the transfer of taxes from the c

      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Informative)

        by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:52PM (#33112940)
        More like almost exactly the timeline Obama campaigned on.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gangien ( 151940 )

          So Obama campaigned on bush's plan? Bush had talked about doing this type of thing.

          And a year and a half into a presidency, he declares an end to combat missions, but 50k troops remain?

          Obama has control of the troops, he doesn't have to go through congress. He could simply order them out.

          As i recall, he had a timeline of 3 months initially and that kept growing as the campaign progressed.

          Of course, I hope i'm wrong and he does get us out of iraq. But we're still fucking around in afghanistan.

  • What a scoop!
  • About time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macbeth66 ( 204889 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:59PM (#33112080)

    The war, over there, has been over for years. Now, they are just working as cops. Not the type of job the military was ever cut out to do.

  • by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:03PM (#33112142)
    Real Americans don't give up so easy. A measly 7.5 years? Puhlease... If McCain had been elected we'd be there for another 7.5... along with 30 years in Iran and who knows how long on the Korean peninsula. I mean really, which party would you rather have in office?
  • This is great news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by electron sponge ( 1758814 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:06PM (#33112168)
    Let's hope the insurgents and other ne'er-do-wells get the message they're supposed to stop blowing people up on August 31.
  • by mistiry ( 1845474 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:06PM (#33112176)
    From TFA: "While the US has been scaling down its troop presence in Iraq it has been stepping up its military commitment to Afghanistan, with the president ordering a surge of 30,000 additional soldiers there. " So, we're pulling our armed forces out of Iraq, just to send them to Afghanistan. A couple of nukes and they can all come home! I'm just saying...
    • by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:16PM (#33112326)

      Nuke what? What structures and populations there are could easily (and more importantly more cheaply) could be dealt with using conventional weapons. The problem with that? The structures and populations that live in them aren't our enemy. It's the whackos out in the boonies hiding in caves (or other countries) that blow up our troops and their fellow countrymen. Low target density and the terrain is naturally hardened. And there's the little fact you can't actually use nukes these days.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:07PM (#33112192) Journal

    Target practice?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Guarding the oil.
      • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:58PM (#33113042) Homepage

        Iraq's oil production capabilities are around $20B/year. We're spending $300B/year on the war. There literally isn't enough oil in the ground there to pay us back for the last 7.5 years, and it would take a century even if they tried. Can we please do some basic math and stop the stupid "it's all about oil" line of attack - it makes you look like an idiot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your calculation is wrong.
          You assume $20B/year - $300B/year = $-280B/year

          This is how the people running the war see it.
          $20B/year + $300B/year (in cost plus contracts) = $320B/year = War oil is much better than regular oil!

  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:08PM (#33112202)

    This probably just means we can now devote more of those troops to Afghanistan. *sigh*

    I wonder how much we're spending on all those troops in Germany, South Korea and Japan? Bring all the troops home from everywhere, cut the military budget in half, and we'd have no economic woes, and still have a gigantic military.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Major Blud ( 789630 )

      Sure about that? In 2009, defense accounted for 23% of the federal budget. []

      • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:35PM (#33112676)

        Sure about that? In 2009, defense accounted for 23% of the federal budget.

        Yep. Half of that is about $400 billion dollars. That would be way more than a shot in the arm for the economy. And once you start paying down the debt, then the interest on said debt goes down, too. And keep in mind those are 'official' numbers, which are widely known to be complete and utter bullshit (in that they're lower than what is reported).

        More easy ideas: stop it with the 'war on drugs': it's an abject failure, and is ridiculously expensive. Legalize and tax marijuana the same as alcohol. You then get: tax money for the sales of marijuana (and more money from the increased sales of junk food, most likely :), billions less spent on the war on drugs, and billions less spent incarcerating marijuana users and marijuana-only dealers. By legalizing marijuana, you'll also take a great deal of power away from the drug cartels, and reduce violence.

        Similar thing for prostitution.

        • by feepness ( 543479 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @02:32PM (#33113564) Homepage

          Yep. Half of that is about $400 billion dollars. That would be way more than a shot in the arm for the economy. And once you start paying down the debt, then the interest on said debt goes down, too.

          The deficit is four times that. []

          So until you cut another $1.1 trillion dollars the debt will continue rising, as will interest payments. Especially given interest rates are at historic lows. What happens when the world realizes we do not have the economic growth to pay this back? Someone will blink first.

          While halving the military budget will be a wonderful start, it's just that.

          As for the War on Drugs [] that runs about $60B a year. I'd love to see that go as well, but even if we look at profits from taxation and reduction of incarceration we're still not close to eliminating our deficits, much less our debt.

          We need across the board freezes and across the board cuts and across the board tax rises. This will never fly. We had some decent choices ten or twenty years ago, now we have none. And everyone will want to make the other guy pay first. I don't see any solutions but ultimately hyper-inflating our way out.

          Maybe not this year or next, but it will happen, count on it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by scorp1us ( 235526 )

          Ah, yes, but 500,000 soldiers and support personnel would come back to this country unemployed. Better to keep them employed abroad than to:
          1) Hike unemployment above 10% (politically damaging)
          2) Pay them on unemployment to do nothing. (Where they don't make defense contractors any money) (economically damaging to families and industry)
          3) Shut down the military industrial complex that allows their deployment possible (and hike unemployment above 12%)

          They aren't going to Afghanistan anyway. They are headed

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by infinite9 ( 319274 )

          And once you start paying down the debt...

          The United States will never, ever, pay down its debt. Ever. It will not ever pay it back. Not because it's not possible, but because those in control choose not to. It's the exact same thing as running up a credit card because you're about to file bankruptcy.

          The US will continue to print money (I mean the federal reserve will buy treasuries), until the cows come home. And one day, when every golden egg has finally been squeezed out of the golden goose, our goose will be cooked. And men in expensive t

  • if bush i in iraq i had decided to push on to baghdad and topple saddam in the early 1990s after racing across the desert unimpeded, then the world would have seen that as justified

    however, the political fear of americans coming home in bodybags was too much, so they turned around and left saddam in power. kuwait was liberated, saddam was cowed, end of story... not

    of course, the shiites who revolted under the false impression or false covert promise of american support were massacred. and of course, the tragedy is saddam was removed when war hawks in the usa sensed the political will finally existed after 9/11 to finish the job. not that 9/11 had anything to do with saddam hussein, but it had everything to do with agendas and the willpower to get them done. the world sensed this massive disconnect and the seedy trumped up lies, and therefore did not support the americans at all the second time around

    and it was done at the price of probably many more american, and iraqi, body bags, many years later, under bush ii in iraq ii

    so colin powell and assorted numbnuts: you screwed up in 1991. you should have gone all the way. if you start a job, finish it completely. leaving it half done meant a problem that festered

    yes, you had the highest and noblest of intentions in mind, but war is messy and has nothing to do with nobility and good intentions, and you need to take some ugly jobs to completion, or don't start the ugly job at all

    • by NotBornYesterday ( 1093817 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @02:42PM (#33113728) Journal

      if bush i in iraq i had decided to push on to baghdad and topple saddam in the early 1990s after racing across the desert unimpeded, then the world would have seen that as justified

      Bush 41 had build a true multinational coalition including many Muslim middle eastern nations, and in negotiating the coalition, had agreed not to change the regime in Iraq, only to liberate Kuwait. Pushing to Baghdad would have been a stab in the back to our allies at the time. And it was believed that after the war, Saddam might fall from power on his own, or at least would have been far less powerful / more cooperative than he ended up being.

    • by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @02:42PM (#33113730) Journal

      so colin powell and assorted numbnuts: you screwed up in 1991. you should have gone all the way. if you start a job, finish it completely.

      Uh, no, "finishing the job" in 1991 meant pretty much the same thing as it did in 2003: rid Iraq of Saddam's partisans and build up a good government bureaucracy, deal with the Sunni versus Shiite versus Kurd problem, and deal with Iran. Powell was correct that this is something America doesn't actually want to do either in 1991 and 2003, though it was disappointing that he could not hold his ground as Secretary of State. George W. Bush was completely wrong in assuming that he wouldn't have to do any of that, and therefore didn't even have a plan.

  • Whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smith6174 ( 986645 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:21PM (#33112424)
    So, we are ending "combat operations" but keeping the soldiers with guns there? It's only slightly comforting to hear that nothing has changed in the military since I got out (Only in an "at least it isn't me" way). This used to be the trick they would pull on all the missions I was on. When people get tired, just tell them it's almost over, whether it really is or not. Since I'm allowed to think now, what does an end to combat operations really mean? It sounds like they are just going to end combat pay.
  • winners all... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:43PM (#33115396)
    No military force has ever walked away from Afghanistan as a winner.Not Alexander the Great, not the British Empire, not Russia nor will the U.S.. The only winners are those that just walk away.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan