Some critical of plans for troop withdrawal from Iraq

02/27/09 Mitch E. Perry
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President Barack Obama announced plans today to withdraw the bulk of U.S. forces from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, and to pull out all remaining troops by the end of 2011, ending the war in Iraq and launching what he called an "era of American leadership and engagement in the Middle East."

Speaking to Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Obama said he wanted to talk about how the war in Iraq would end.

The president’s plan calls for withdrawing most of the 142,000 service members now in Iraq by the end of August next year, leaving 35,000 to 50,000 in place until Dec. 31, 2011, when all U.S. forces must be out of Iraq in accordance with a status-of-forces agreement negotiated last year between the Iraqi government and the Bush administration. Obama said he intends to honor that agreement. But he said Iraq is not yet secure.

Obama said he had consulted with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, and his generals on the ground. Obama said the U.S. cannot rid Iraq of every individual who wants to harm Iraqi citizens, or wait until they Iraq’s union is perfect.

Tampa Democrat Jim Davis served in Congress for 10 years. He voted for the authorization to go to war in the fall of 2002. He applauded the president’s announcement today, saying he’s fulfilling a major pledge on the campaign trail.

Many Democrats don’t think Obama is going far enough in withdrawing troops. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she thought as few as 20,000 troops could and should remain in Iraq by the end of next summer, while New York Sen. Charles Schumer told the New York Times that "50,000 is more than I would have thought."

But former Tampa Congressman Jim Davis disagrees with his former colleagues.

Brian Moore is with the Naturecoast Coalition for Peace and Justice, and ran as the Socialist Party Ticket’s presidential candidate last year. He calls plans to keep as many as 50,000 troops in Iraq for nearly 3 more years unacceptable.

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