SOFA Compliance FTW
Antiwar groups aren't going to quibble about three months in the initial withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Where they will have an issue is if the Administration doesn't abide by the bilateral agreement on total withdrawal by the end of 2011:
“The fact that the President is sticking with a time-line that is at least close to the one he announced during the campaign is a good thing,” adds Tom Andrews, a former Congressman who is national director of the Win Without War coalition. “He was under tremendous pressure to back off of a time-line.”
There’s still the prospect of some more friction from the left, however. Antiwar leaders want to see a clearer sense of how many residual forces will remain — today’s Times suggested the possibility of as many as 55,000 — and what precisely their mission will be. They also want Obama to reaffirm his commitment to the Iraqi Parlimanent’s Status of Forces Agreement, which would set the end of 2011 as the deadline for all troops to be out.
“It’s important that the administration makes clear that it fully supports these firm deadlines,” Andrews continued. “And we need to be much clearer about the role the residual forces are going to have. We hope to see clarification when he makes his announcements.”
This is absolutely right. There are firm deadlines, the abrogation of which would be met with swift fury from the Iraqis and condemnation from the world community. Our troops would become targets once again and we would be illegal occupiers in a foreign land. I would be in the streets if Obama sought to delay total withdrawal.
But every indication is that, despite pushing from the generals, he will. The generals have in part a sincere belief that residual forces are needed to forestall chaos and in part a macho arrogant faith that only the military can solve problems. Both rely on false premises and should be rejected.
Ultimately, I think you'll see the antiwar community be much louder with respect to Afghanistan, especially as the death toll rises, than with respect to Iraq.