Now that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama agree on a withdrawal timetable, and Senator John McCain’s campaign has acknowledged being “fucked”, only one question remains:
If most U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2010, when will they start leaving?
Next summer, that’s when.
The reason is that it will take at least 15 months to remove the brigades and their equipment from Iraq, and the tens of thousands of contractors currently in the country will also have to extracted. According to one estimate, just moving the combat troops will require some 10,000 truck trips through potentially hostile territory.
I’m bringing this up because even astute observers on both sides of the Atlantic seem to think the American military presence in Iraq will one day just vanish with a flick of President Obama’s magic wand.
In fact, it will be a long and dangerous process, and it will be executed by an untested commander under security conditions that may deteriorate rapidly and without warning.
And once it’s done, whether the U.S. will leave behind a “residual” force or not, my guess is Iraq will revert back to some sort of military dictatorship within a year — which will be seen as the only way to save the country, as all the old sores now festering will be open and bleeding by then.