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Obama Scraps Iraq Withdrawal

By davidswanson - Posted on 12 May 2010

By David Swanson

So, we elected a president who promised a withdrawal from Iraq that he, or the generals who tell him what to do, is now further delaying. And, of course, the timetable he's now delaying was already a far cry from what he had promised as a candidate.

What are we to think? That may be sad news, but what could we have done differently? Surely it would have been worse to elect a president who did not promise to withdraw, right?

But there's a broader framework for this withdrawal or lack thereof, namely the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement), the unconstitutional treaty that Bush and Maliki drew up without consulting the U.S. Senate. I was reminded of this on Tuesday when Obama and Karzai talked about a forthcoming document from the two of them and repeatedly expressed their eternal devotion to a long occupation.

The unconstitutional Iraq treaty (UIT) requires complete withdrawal from Iraq by the end of next year, and withdrawal from all Iraqi cities, villages, and localities by last summer. Obama's latest announcement doesn't alter the lack of compliance with the latter requirement. Nor does it guarantee noncompliance with the former. But it illustrates something else, something that some of us have been screaming since the UIT was allowed to stand, something that pretty well guarantees that the US occupation of Iraq will never end.

Imagine if Congress funded, defunded, oversaw, and regulated the military and wars as required by our Constitution. Imagine if the president COULDN'T simply tell Congress that troops would be staying in Iraq longer than planned, but had to ask for the necessary funding first. Here's the lesson for this teachable moment:

Persuading presidents to end wars only looks good until they change their mind. Cutting off the funding actually forces wars to end.

When the US peace movement refused to challenge the UIT, it left Bush's successor and his successors free to ignore it, revise it, or replace it. Congress has been removed from the equation. If Obama decides to inform Congress that the occupation of Iraq will go on into 2012, Congress' response will be as muted as when the Director of National Intelligence informed Congress that killing Americans was now legal. And what can Congress say? It had no role in ratifying the UIT in the first place.

And the peace movement is in large part on the same path with Afghanistan, working to pass a toothless, non-binding timetable for possible redeployment of troops to another nation. Congress sees itself as advisors whose role it is to persuade the president that he wants to cease the activity that most advances presidential power. And activists share that perspective.

But what happens if the president becomes unpersuaded about ending both of these wars? What in the world are we supposed to do then?

We have an alternative to painting ourselves into this corner. The alternative is to build a movement of war opponents (and advocates for spending on human needs and/or tax cuts) that can pressure the House of Representatives to cut off the funding for the wars. Of course, this isn't easy. It's much harder than collecting signatures on a toothless resolution. And it's dramatically harder than watching the president create an unconstitutional treaty (something Bush was forced into primarily by the people of Iraq) and then stepping aside to celebrate.

But there is no stronger message that could be used to persuade a president than a growing caucus of congress members denying him the money. And once a majority is reached in the caucus of war defunders, then the war simply has to end, whether the president is persuaded of anything or not.

So, the lesson to be learned from Obama scrapping his current plan for an Iraq withdrawal is not that we should phone the White House and complain. It's not that we need 20 more cosponsors of the nonbinding timetable for Afghanistan. The lesson is that we must tell members of the House of Representatives that they can vote against war funding or we will vote against them.

Not a new lesson, I realize, but the Constitution is always less read than talked about.

UPDATE: The anger in response to this article, both at the ever slower withdrawal and evidence that it will not be completed, and at me for suggesting that it isn't all on track, is all very encouraging. Articles on Afghanistan aren't usually able to detect a pulse. People CAN care about war, if it's in Iraq. That's heartening. I hope it gets channeled into demanding a fast and complete withdrawal, committee reviews of the permanent bases and "embassy", and congressional cut-off of funds for delays.

UPDATE 2: A few hundred commenters are right that Obama has not announced that there will be no withdrawal. It's just gone from 16 months to a partial withdrawal by august, to a partial withdrawal by august that won't start until it's almost august -- and with no checks on these changes from congress or anywhere else, just discretion of the president or the generals. Unless there is push-back the delays will grow and grow, and completeness of any withdrawal will be scaled back. The SOFA requires ALL FORCES out by the end of next year and does not actually legalize any of them being there right now.

Remember "Rope-a-dope". Sit on the ropes and let your opponent punch himself out? That is what they are doing to us, and it's working!

What could he have done? We could have elected a third party candidate for president instead of one of the two Republicrat corporate stooges we keep electing time after time and expecting them to act differently.


Al K.

And they must be replaced with real Reps, instead of more campaign liars.

The Constitution needs to cease to be treated as Bush said of it, "just a piece of paper", which is evidently how most Congress members have also treated it, but without explicitly saying or repeating these words, or not in public, anyway.

It seems too many people who campaign to be elected have usually not been seriously vetted and voters need to stop voting in such an irresponsible, negligent and callous way. Candidates need to be well vetted for honesty and all other necessary qualities for political representatives. Otherwise, the majority of voters will again end up electing a majority corrupt, incompetent, cowardly, ... Congress.

to all the Obama Maniacs who aren't one iota different than a Bushie.

Fools, all!

David Swanson wrote : The lesson is that we must tell members of the House of Representatives that they can vote against war funding or we will vote against them.

I have said that to my Congressman, Zack Space, Ohio 18th , repeatedly since 2006. In fact, we’ve exchanged letters wherein he has defended his Blue Dog position and our relationship is now such that he responds to nothing from me, nor does he even bother sending me his monthly newsletter. The last election I kept my word and voted against him, voted blank actually, but the point is: Where do we go from here?

I voted against Sarah Palin in 2008, even though I suspected she was chosen to keep people like me, those who have and will/would have voted third party from doing so. Although, unlike a number of my friends who voted for Obama, I never let up in my efforts to end the wars or to see justice done. I’ve had letters to the editor of our local paper published in which, I’ve criticized Obama’s actions and these were well received and seconded by a number of his former supporters. Is that progress?

Many people say that the solution is to vote third party. But for a number of key elections there are no third party candidates or if there are, they are so far to the right they almost make Republicons look good. David, when you say "vote against them" do you mean we should vote for their opponent, even if that person is an equally sleazy rat? I couldn’t bring myself to vote Republicon for Congress last time, after 8 years of Bush. While, to have a blank vote taken seriously there must be an awful lot of them…

and be willing to risk replacing a horrible representative with someone even worse, because otherwise you have no way to leverage them into being anything better than horrible

And the idea also causes me to chuckle a little, because the idea seems worth trying. Risk-taking is sometimes useful and perhaps necessary.

I'm only guessing for now, but guess that Obama or he and his administration have now chosen to put off the withdrawal fron Iraq further into the future because of the many bombing attacks and killings in Iraq this week, and I've been expecting this to happen again for many months, since last year, because this has been happening rather repeatedly.

For now, I can't be certain who's responsible for carrying out these many new and violent attacks, but believe to have read that many innocent civilians were killed and injured, including some Iraqi police. Well, Iraqi Resistance forces would not stand any chance of gaining from committing such attacks, for they know that such a series of violent attacks killing and injuring many civilians could only be counter-productive, for they want US withdrawal and realise that the US would use such attacks to again claim that withdrawal has to be postponed. They also realise that killing many police would be similarly counter-productive, for the same reason.

It would not be the first time the US has done this in Iraq, postponing withdrawal due to increases in violent attacks by ghost Al Qaeda in Iraq, f.e.; this ghost enemy the US claimed to have killed the leader of a number of times and kept resurrecting from the dead to provide the US with more opportunities to lie again about who was really behind many violent attacks in Iraq.

There is very serious evidence of or at least strong reason to believe that the U.S. and U.K. conducted covert "Salvador Option" kind of attacks during this war on Iraq. There's a serious index of articles at for these covert and very black ops by the US and UK, and possibly Israel. The link for the index is a little way down the homepage is entitled, "The Salvador Option and Death Squads". Again, it's about this war on Iraq; not the historical Salvador Option of US black and very evil ops.

Among writers with very striking articles there is Max Fuller, but there are other good and important articles by plenty of other people linked in this index. It's that he has some especially striking articles.

Anyway, any Al Qaeda in Iraq activity may very well have been actually part of this black ops activity of the US and UK forces.

The US has a history of this sort from also the war in Vietnam, certainly Operation Phoenix anyway, but this is not the only other historical example.

And it's very obvious that the U.S elites don't have any true intention of withdrawing from Iraq for many years to come; not with the huge and criminally constructed or established US embassy there, and the large US bases; and all of that oil to "protect" or control. The same is true about the war on Afghanistan, where the US elites don't plan on withdrawing from for at least another ten, twenty, or even more years. These wars have always clearly been planned for very long presence of the US, and its league of criminal allies.

Of course US military buildup is quite global and continuously increasing, and this also is not planned for only short-term purposes.

If Obama says the withdrawal date is being rescheduled for 2012, instead of 2011, then we have NO reason to believe that this is at all truly what's planned. The US elites plan to be in Iraq for many more years than this; we can be certain. But by making the schedule changes for what apparently is only a little longer, one year at a time, say (and this continues to happen based on violent attacks, recurringly), then the war elites keep incrementally prolonging the duration for what they clearly plan on being a very long time, while pretending to not have long-term lans. They use the deceptive approach of always making short-term increments or adjustments.

They want to deceive the American public and Iraqis in order to try to prevent them from becoming too restless, so violent attacks covertly and strategically are staged or conducted to try to justify prolonging the occupation to the wide public. It's always with this sort of deception and these violent tactics the elites use, because they know the American and Iraqi populations want the US to withdraw and that it's serious majorities in both countries who demand this.

We know that that's true for Iraqis, but also know US voters voted the Dem. Party into majority power in the US Congress in 2006 for this reason; and that many Americans voted for President Obama for the same reason, to end the wars.

But the war makers and profiteers have never had short-term presence in Iraq or Afghanistan in mind and this hasn't changed. They just lie about their real plans in order to quiet down the opposed public masses.

Some commanders have been honest about the war on Afghanistan, having said the US will be there for another ten or twenty years, or more, but these commanders have been few and I don't recall any saying this about Iraq, which I believe is a war Americans have been more opposed to the continuation of after most Americans realised there were neither WMD in Iraq nor ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

Americans have been more supportive regarding the war on Afghanistan also because of earlier lies that continue to be repeated, but many Americans want a new 9/11 investigation due to having come to realise that a lot of lies were told to the public about 9/11. More people have woken up about having been highly lied to about 9/11. There still are many more Americans who continue to believe at least some of these lies used to so-called justify this war than there are Americans believing the lies used to drive support for the war on Iraq. However, the population has had years to learn that the official story about 9/11 consists of a lot of lies and, so, many want a new and independent 9/11 investigation; and one is needed.

Neither of these wars were ever really about Al Qaeda, and there's a LOT more evidence for 9/11 having been an inside job, a false flag attack, than there is for proof of the contrary. There's very little evidence that supports the official story and several of the 9/11 Commissioners denounced ... not their efforts, but the final report and what clearly was criminal obstruction by Bush, Cheney, and some obstruction or lying, or both, by the then CIA Director, as well as plenty from top US military brass. Most of the Commissioners were not responsible for the drafting of the final report, so they weren't in need of also denouncing themselves.

Many Americans, and many more people of other countries, want a new and independent 9/11 investigation because it is [necessary] to have another; and one that's not obstructed like the 9/11 Commission was. Etcetera.

The war-making and profiteering elites never planned on making these illegal wars, wars of aggression, short, so they strategically will continue their evil games of deception, covert black ops, and so on. It's not unlikely; it's something we can be strongly certain about.

So the US Congress clearly requires a major House-cleaning. Hopefully, the upcoming elections in November will bring about this needed change, for using any other methods, such as strong-arm kind, say, could not work.

It's needed for stopping the wars and other very important, and pressing reasons, but definitely the wars, also.

I guess you don't realise that the whole system is corrupt and no amount of "telling" them will do any good. WAKE THE HELL UP

Bribery Organizations, are repeatedly buying support and votes from our very own elected officials.
Their endless money pits are feeding the greedy hunger of elected officials, who will help maintain control over the direction that "The Government" wants to go.
The taxpayers are and will continue to pay for "The Government's" spending agenda's.
I agree with David. Don't keep voting for the same officials who prove to us continually that "We the People" don't fit in their agenda's, other than having to pay.
Until enough of us vote them out of Washington, maybe then, some will realize that "We the People" still have the power at the ballot boxes across this country.
It is a clear cut FACT that what is going on now in America isn't working for us. Yet, we're still paying for "The Government's" greedy hunger for money.


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