A bombshell memo argues the U.S. is no longer needed in Iraq, contrary to the Obama administration's public planning. The New York Times reports Col. Timothy R. Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military’s Baghdad command, argues that staying until next year will create greater resentment for the U.S. in the country while failing to improve the Iraqi military's performance. An Army spokesperson said the memo doesn't reflect the military's opinion.
Among the first to parse the memo was The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman, who writes that Reese's view was expressed along with a harsh view of the Iraqi government's inability to stem corruption and heal ethnic rifts. Still, the government is stable enough for the U.S. to leave, Reese said.
Reese also co-authored a memo about the Army's experience in Iraq from 2003 to 2005 that was well-regarded by military officials, Ackerman said. But a former White House Iraq director criticized Reese's memo as exaggerated and unrealistic. It also fails to account for how faster withdrawal would occur, the former official said.
Tom Ricks was less convinced of the aftermath of a U.S. withdrawal, writing that the memo left open the question of "just how bad it gets after we leave." With "regional war" being one potential outcome, the defense correspondent said that he doesn't see "how hanging a 'mission accomplished' banner would work any better for the Obama administration than it did for the Bush administration."
The colonel's byline may be stirring up other issues as well, if another report ends up being confirmed. Talking Points Memo, the left-leaning blog, today identified Reese as the anonymous writer of anti-Obama blog posts at aleading source of conservative online opinion, Townhall. One of his posts is an "alarmist, paranoid" view of health care reform as constructed by President Obama's allies in Congress. Refusing to miss a chance to tie together the two Reese stories today, TPM pointed out that these views "don't necessarily reflect on his credentials as a military strategist."