Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Asked For Long-Term US Military Presence In Iraq

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani asked for a long-term US military presence in Iraq to deter “foreign interference”.

“I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time — even two military bases to prevent foreign interference,” Talabani told The Washington Post.

“I don’t ask to have 100,000 American soldiers — 10,000 soldiers and two air bases would be enough.”

He would like to have such a permanent / long-term base in Kurdistan, but he believes that Iraq’s Sunnis would also welcome such a base.

“In some places Sunnis want the Americans to stay,” he argued. “Sunnis think the main danger is coming from Iran now.”

AJ Strata (in a quite, umh, confrontational post) points out the following:

This is clearly a refudiation of every democrat talking point on Iraq over the last year. Iraqis are not asking America to leave or redeploy. They are asking for our help to keep their fledgling democracy afloat. The cut-and-run crowd has just been handed a huge foreign policy blow. We need Arab-Muslim support in our war against Al Qaeda and terrorism, and now we have a formal, public request from a country that used to be a sworn enemy of America to be an ally and help them out. Now when a liberal democrat cries “runaway” (in an echo of Monty Python’s Holy Grail) the country can respond “what about what the Iraqis want from us?”.

It is worded a little bit political incorrect and quite harsh, but the main point stands: Iraq has now asked the U.S. to not withdraw troops from it completely. And not just regarding the coming months, but regarding the coming years.
The U.S. cannot simply ignore this request, for obvious reasons. This means that the Democrats’ plan regarding Iraq, must include a long-term presence for a limited U.S. military force.

The ‘the Iraqis don’t want us there’ argument has proven incorrect.

It creates another larger problem for those opposing the war/the continuous presence of U.S. troops in Iraq as well: if 4000 troops remain, it means that Iraq has to be made less chaotic -> as to secure the safety of those troops/to reduce the threats facing them/increase their impact. This, of course, means that there is but one choice left: commit to solving the problems in Iraq. This creates both a different situation for the Republicans, but especially for the Democrats. Withdraw troops within one year’s time, is, quite simply, not an option any longer.

Regarding the Republicans: ‘staying the course’ will not be enough either, since that will not solve the problems either.

Related:

Retired officers criticize Rumsfeld:

“I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq,” retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste said in remarks prepared for a forum conducted by Senate Democrats.

A second military leader, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, assessed Rumsfeld as “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically ….”

“Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision-making,” he added in a statement prepared for the policy forum, held six weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections in which the war is a central issue.
[...]
It is unusual for retired military officers to criticize the Pentagon while military operations are under way, particularly at a public event likely to draw widespread media attention.

But Batiste, Eaton and retired Col. Paul X. Hammes were unsparing in remarks that suggested deep anger at the way the military had been treated. All three served in Iraq, and Batiste also was senior military assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Batiste, who commanded the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, also blamed Congress for failing to ask “the tough questions.”

He said Rumsfeld at one point threatened to fire the next person who mentioned the need for a postwar plan in Iraq.

Whether one agrees about whether or not Rumsfeld ‘blew it’, so to speak, one thing is extremely clear to me: if the White House wants to regain credibility and want the country to support the war in Iraq (again), Rumselfd will have to resign.

And yes, I agree that big mistakes were made (troop levels, post-war plan for instance) and that Rumsfeld should be held accountable since he is, you know, responsible.

Personal: thanks to all of you for you kind words and prayers regarding the situation / health of my grandmother.
It deeply touches me.

Author: michaelvdg

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24 Comments

  1. It strikes me that 10,000 troops on a couple of bases is a lot closer to Murths’s, and other Democrats’, positions than it is to “stay the course.” Substitute “base in country” for “over the horizon,” and it is Murtha’s suggestion. Given that it appears incredibly unlikely that the current course will change the status in Iraq (and is likely not sustainable even at this level), what do you propose other than an announced and implemented draw down of troops?

  2. I agree with les.

    AJ Strata has issued a fairly typical right wing response, distorting the Murtha position so that he can successfully argue with it. You know, the old “anything that doesn’t agree with the Bush position is “cut-and-run cut-and-run cut-and-run cut-and-run cut-and-run cut-and-run.”

    A fair argument is where you accurately state the opponent’s position, which you would think isn’t that hard to do. But since right-wingers so consistently refuse to do this, you have to figure they consider fair arguments to be bad politics for them.

  3. I don’t think Iraqis are jumping for joy that we’ve destroyed their infrastructure, allowed their ageless, priceless, antiquities to be looted, and killed at least 50,000 of their countrymen.

    Look at it from their perspective:
    In the 80′s we supported Saddam in the war against Iran-even dealing with them on weapons trades. In the 90′s,when he invaded Kuwait we drove him out and incited the Shiites and Kurds to revolt against him. We never supplied any military back-up, however, and allowed Iraqi helicpters to fly in the no-fly-zone as a gesture of goodwill.

    As a result at least 20,000 were slaughtered by Saddam when he acted to quell the uprising. Then because we were sure he had WMD’s we used UN supported sanctions againt Iraq for about eight years. Many suffered malnutrition or starved as a result.

    After 9/11 on the basis of faulty intelligence, we decided to “liberate” them. Only problem was we went for the quick fix, and neglected to formulate a workable plan for the occupation. We protected the oil fields, but dismissed the govt, army and police force. As a result of resurfacing of age-old divisions of hostilities between the various religions and sects, plus the actions of terrorists drawn to the scene by our invasion, Iraq dissolved into chaos, and is now on the verge of civil war.

    But, I’m so glad to know it was just the usual biased reporting by the MSM- they really do want us there.

  4. Talibani wants the US to stay. The question is, do the people of Iraq want that also? They appear to be quite divided in general (Sunni vs. Shia, for example). In addition, Talibani’s wishes may backfire on him if the people start to view him as a leader kept in place by the US military rather than their democratic process. The greatest advantage I see in keeping the US there, from the Iraqi perspective, is to try to keep the Sunni and Shia from killing each other, although that seems a difficult task with 100,000 plus troops in the country.

  5. I think the Kurds want us to stay. The government wants us to stay, because they are still in their infancy, and are unable to control their own security or provide basic services yet. Also, if we leave, they may not get money and manpower for reconstruction.

  6. Kim
    Here’s an idea, phrase your agument without BS propaganda and people other than those that are already on your side, and thus willing to overlook your errors, may listen. USSR and France were the big military suppliers and your other half truths and distortions make me so pissed off I couldn’t even say what the hell the point you were trying to make was.

  7. Talabani is Kurdish. The Kurds very clearly and vocally want independence but there would be problems from Turkey/Iran. A US base or two in Kurdistan would solve that problem right quick (I mean, why exactly would 10,000 soldiers in Kurdistan hours away from any violent region help the Iraq situation?) and allow them to split if Iraq fell into full civil war. Now personally I have to say that I think the Kurds have done an excellent job (mostly) of creating the exact sort of state we want in the region and we should help them protect it. I know Turkey will get pissed off but if the whole region goes up in radical Islamic flames they will have a lot more to worry about from those guys than the Kurds that want independence. Plus it would give us a quick-strike force against major threats and a base for anti-terrorist missions. As I understand it more and more people are jumping on this idea but it should be seen as a post-Iraq War suggestion since it would effectively end our direct involvement in the current conflicts. I’d need to see all factions suggest this idea before I thought of it as an “Iraqi request” instead of a Kurdish one.

  8. I think Mikkel is closest to the truth

  9. I mostly agree with Mikkel as well, and won’t rehash his points. Rather, I’ll comment on the irony of the following statement:

    “I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time — even two military bases to prevent foreign interference,”

    Reminds me of the Afghans, who consider the Taliban to be the foreigners. We’re recognized as the anti-imperialists.

    Oh, and top generals dissing Rumsfeld? That’s a dog bites man story if I ever heard one. The generals hate Rumsfeld for keeping them on short leashes. Prior to Iraq, that was just the kind of tough love the Army needed. Whether that was a good thing for Iraq is debatable (I think Rumsfeld blew it pretty badly, but that’s just me) but it’s no surprise that the generals will take any opportunity to whine like the whipped dogs they are.

  10. Eric- Feel free to ignore my comments, and save me your abusive feedback.

  11. Kim,
    Here’s an idea. If you don’t wish people to respond then don’t post. My comments were directed entirely at your post and and not at all towards you personaly. The fact is your post had so little to do with the topic and so much to do with reheating old BS propaganda that I feel entirerly justified in my responce.

  12. Eric- You may feel that way- but I thought your response was unnecessarily rude. Plus you have added nothing to this discussion with your own comments. I don’t mind if people disagree with me-they do all the time and its fine- but I am making a civil request that if you can’t disagree with me in a civil way, please do not respond at all. Thanks!

  13. Okay, square this circle.

    Reliable surveys show that the percentage of Iraqis favoring a withdrawal timeline has risen from thirty percent in February 2004 to 76 percent in February 2005 to 87 percent earlier this year. [NYT, Mar. 19, 2006] of 70 to 82 percent, Moreover, 47 percent of all Iraqis, including 88 percent of Sunnis and 41 percent of Shiites, approved attacks on American forces in a January 2006 survey. [Knight Ridder, Jan. 30, 06, posted on http://www.worldpublicopinon.org Only the pro-Western Kurdish minority want the US troops to stay. Perhaps in response to this overwhelming popular sentiment, large numbers of elected Iraqi parliamentarians have been trying to force the US pullout by legislation.

    On September 12, 104 Iraqi parliamentarians signed a petition calling for a withdrawal timetable. There are 275 members of the Iraq parliament, and frequently as many as eighty are not present. The constitution allows a measure to become law if supported by a majority of those present and voting. So the withdrawal proposal suddenly would have become law if it wasn't arbitrarily ordered to a committee for "review".

    A similar scenario occurred in July 2005 when at least 82 parliamentarians signed a petition for the "speedy departure of the occupation", and denounced the Iraqi executive for failing to consult parliament as required by law.

    Since this year's parliamentary election, when large numbers of Sunnis chose to vote rather than abstain, the number of anti-occupation parliamentarians inevitably grew. According to one Iraqi analyst I have interviewed, between 140 and 160 members would vote for a timetable if one was proposed. That would end the United Nations authorization of the occupation, and presumably force the withdrawal of American troops. It would be the signal the international community is looking for before engaging in a stabilization process.

    Funny thing about politics. When you add in surveys and account for the actual things politicos do as opposed to their rhetoric, it puts the science into political science.

    Anybody the least bit curious about why the Iraqi Government's leadership sent this into committee instead of allowing a vote?

    [I apologize for the long quote, but is is merely a snippet from a much longer article filled with analysis. This was the guts, as it were.]

  14. Well Kim I don’t think it was to harsh or rude and complain all you want about my not adding to the discusion, but since your comment was totaly off topic your opinion less than important to me.

  15. Mark Adams is right. And so is Mikkel. The Kurds want us to stay. But nobody else does. The Sunnis still hate us for toppling Saddam and putting the Shi’ites in power. They believe that without the US, they could take over the government. Instead of begging for US help against Shi’ite death squads, they’ve taken revenge into their own hands. And the Shi’ite are increasingly annoyed with us as our Sunni Muslim Ambassador Khalilzad (yes, the Shi’ites do pay close attention to the sectarian roots of our Ambassador) demands Maliki crack down on militias, and continues to seek alliances with “the Saddmist terrorists” (aka all Sunnis).

    Moving our troops to Kurdistan is probably the only thing that makes sense. Jalal Talabani, like Nouri Al-Maliki, doesn’t really speak for much of Iraq anymore.

  16. OKAY Eric- My comment may have been off topic- I admit it and apologize profusely for any offense caused by my off-topic post. Happy now???

  17. “I don’t ask to have 100,000 American soldiers — 10,000 soldiers and two air bases would be enough.”

    Wow! Isn’t it convenient that GW also wants a couple of bases in Iraq. It’s nice when these things work out, isn’t it?

    Seriously, this guy depends on us for his job. Despite the elections, he serves at the president’s pleasure not the Iraqi’s. (Remember, we didn’t like the guy they wanted for PM (Jaafari), so we strong armed them into accepting Maliki.)

    He gets called in to make Bush’s case for staying the course, just before the midterms, just like the Allawi did before him.

    Rumsfeld should be held accountable since he is, you know, responsible.

    Well, after Bush of course.

  18. What a truly silly post. I guess we could all selectively pick one or two Iraqis to prove our points now couldn’t we. Well, for the second part of the story you should all read Juan Cole’s blog this morning where he points out all of the Iraqis that strongly disagree with permanent US bases and calls for a US timetable. Guess that means your wrong now right Michael and the Democratic position is the one held by Iraqis, right? From your logic that is the only conclusion I can come to. Silly, silly post. Here is a snippet:

    Shaikh Khalaf al-`Ulyan, a member of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, emphasized that “The American presence in the country is dependent on the security situation. A timetable for withdrawal has become an urgent need at the present moment, even if some of the political blocs do not support an immediate withdrawal.” He added, “The request by the president of the republic for a long-term American presence contravenes the prerogatives of the president of the state, which are guaranteed by the text of the Iraqi constitution, since the question of whether the US troops stay or go must be debated in parliament.” He insisted that the Iraqi Accord Front “will never permit the establishment of permanent bases on Iraqi soil on the pretext of protecting it.” He accused unnamed political forces of deliberately provoking a security crisis in Iraq in order to keep the American presence.

  19. BallonJuice has a response to MvdG post:
    BJ
    It is a critique of his points and not a hatchet job like the response from Huffington.

    They are in the Elrod/Mikkel camp, this proposal is only good for the Kurds, not greater Iraq.

  20. There is no word for me to thank a great nation like the people of America to liberate Iraq. Bringing democracy to our people, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with you to fight terror and God wills it we will destory them. If America make a mistake by withdrawing from Iraq, the terrorists will win and they will knock your door one day so please for sake of your owen lives think twice before make such dicision. Your soldiers are our heros. God bless America and the western allies.

  21. It’s interesting that none of the parties really want’s US out except AlQ. What they seem to be doing is jockeying for position and power against each other and the US must stay there to make sure there is a country left for them to run. There will most likely be violence there for the forcable future……So? As long as the county can stay togeather and maintain some reasonable level of freedom we and they win.

  22. No Eric, polls of Iraqis want the US out. The Shiites are being qiut, but would love to see us leave. We are tolerated in the Green Zone, the Red Zone is another story. Stop the Rovian meme.

  23. Rudi- Thanks for the link! Balloon Juice had the best response of anyone to Mvdp’s post.

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