Peter Feaver frets over Obama's Iraq speech last Friday:
President Obama has offered his own "read my lips pledge" when he says, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." He gives himself only the slightest amount of wiggle room when he further states: "And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011" (emphasis mine).
Here is the problem. What if the situation in Iraq requires a slightly longer timetable?
What if the situation requires renegotiating the Status of Forces Agreement? What if Iraqis ask President Obama for some sort of longer-term strategic partnership that would further cement gains in that region, and do so at an acceptable cost? By that point, will the inflexibility and domestic political point-scoring of this speech have burned any such bridges behind President Obama? Will he be trapped, or will he have the freedom of maneuver he needs to do what is in the best interests of U.S. national security at that time?
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