Stay the Course of Withdrawal

When Should the United States Leave Iraq?

Courtesy Reuters

Having held parliamentary elections on March 7 and endured a protracted period of vote counting, Iraqis are now focused on the arduous process of government formation. As this Iraqi drama unfolds, U.S. military forces are preparing to redeploy according to the U.S.-Iraq security agreement of November 2008 and President Barack Obama’s announced timetable for withdrawal. The impending drawdown -- from 96,000 troops today to about 50,000 on September 1, 2010, and zero on January 1, 2012 -- will require the United States to defer increasingly to Iraqis as they dictate their own future.

This, in turn, requires that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continue their development. The increased proficiency of the ISF is a main reason why, though Iraqis will continue to endure grievous violence in coming years, there is no longer a broad-based insurgency that poses a strategic threat to the political process or the government. But the ISF’s progress is relatively

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