“I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed. And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies,” Obama said.
Obama stuck with saying that his timeline is based on the safety of the troops, “My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything that I’ve said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe. I said that based on the information that we had received from our commanders that one to two brigades a month could be pulled out safely, from a logistical perspective.”
He also added an interesting little twist about troop withdrawals being based on stability in Iraq, “My guiding approach continues to be that we’ve got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable.” I went back and searched pages of Obama quotes and I can’t find another instance where he mentioned stability in Iraq as one of his criteria for withdrawing the troops.
Here is what Obama said at an April debate in Philadelphia, PA, “Well, the president sets the mission. The general and our troops carry out that mission. And unfortunately we have had a bad mission. Once I’ve given them a new mission, that we are going to proceed deliberately in an orderly fashion out of Iraq, if they come to me and want to adjust tactics, then I will certainly take their recommendations into consideration.”
Iraq stability is condition that is often invoked by Republicans to justify the troops staying in Iraq. Could Obama possibility be moving his position on Iraq to the right? It seems that the movement towards making Obama less liberal now extends to his position on the war.
Much of Obama’s base of support is very liberal, and very anti-war, so it would be a major mistake for the campaign to even suggest that the troops might stay in Iraq. I know his campaign is trying to appeal to moderates, but I think that they are getting close to angering their base.