The irony in Obama's retreat from Iraq
...Obama's position on the war before he was elected was irresponsible. His first proposal would have had the troops out last spring before the enemy had been defeated. He still acts indifferent to victory. That is the kind of arrogance that breeds defeat.
The irony is that the success of the surge, which Obama predicted would fail, has put his plan well within the range of responsible policy. It is disappointing that the President is still yet to acknowledge this fully, when plainly it is that very political progress that has enabled this announcement. The reality, rhetoric aside, is that Obama's timetable doesn't look very different from what would have been a logical extension of George W Bush's departing view.
As important as the dates and numbers is the president's readiness to allow on-the-ground conditions, as reported by on-the-ground military commanders, to determine the pace of the withdrawals over the next 18 months. Petraeus, not Pelosi, will be the voice that matters. That's good news for the majority of Americans who are not clamouring for – indeed, would be wary of – a hasty withdrawal designed to carry out an election pledge made under vastly different circumstances.