On the July 21 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs This Week, discussing Iraq withdrawal plans being offered "on the [presidential] campaign trail" and "on Capitol Hill," host Lou Dobbs asserted that "it's as if there are only two options before our policymakers, either full withdrawal or full 'stay the course.' " The Senate, however, recently debated an amendment to the defense authorization bill -- offered by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) -- that calls for a "reduction" of U.S forces in Iraq but also stipulates that the United States maintain a "limited presence" of troops there to protect U.S. and coalition infrastructure, train Iraqi security forces, and conduct counterterrorism operations. Moreover, Iraq withdrawal plans from two leading Democratic presidential contenders, Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), contain provisions that call for a "limited presence" and a "retention" of U.S. forces, respectively, for counterterrorism operations, force and infrastructure protection, and training Iraqi security forces.
CNN chief national correspondent John King replied to Dobbs, "And, yet, Lou if you ask a foreign-policy expert in either party, they will tell you that no matter what happens over the next several months, there will be 50 to 75,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future." But King did not note that proposals offered by Democratic members of Congress and presidential candidates provide for the retention of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Last week, the Senate debated the Levin-Reed amendment, on which Republicans blocked an up-or-down vote. Under the amendment, the reduction in U.S. forces would "be implemented as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community for the purpose of working collectively to bring stability to Iraq." However, the measure calls for "a limited presence" of troops to remain in Iraq to protect "United States and Coalition personnel and infrastructure," to"[t]rain, equip, and provid[e] logistic support to the Iraqi Security Forces [ISF]," and engage in "targeted counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliated groups, and other international terrorist organizations." The amendment further stipulates that "[t]he Secretary of Defense shall complete the transition of United States forces to a limited presence and missions as described" in the amendment by April 30, 2008.
Moreover, Obama introduced legislation in January requiring the redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq to begin "not later than May 1, 2007." The bill stated that the redeployment "shall occur in a gradual manner and shall be executed at a pace to achieve the goal of the complete redeployment of all United States combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group." According to Obama's bill, redeployment of U.S. forces is "subject to the exceptions for retention of forces for force protection, counter-terrorism operations, training of Iraqi forces, and other purposes."
In addition, Clinton's Iraq redeployment legislation, introduced in the Senate in February, would cap the number of troops in Iraq at January 2007 levels and provide for de-authorizing the war unless the president certifies that "a phased redeployment of United States military forces from Iraq has begun ... including the transition of United States forces in Iraq to the limited presence and mission of -- (A) training Iraqi security forces; (B) providing logistic support of Iraqi security forces; (C) protecting United States personnel and infrastructure; and (D) participating in targeted counter-terrorism activities."
From the July 21 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs This Week:
DOBBS: And what next [in Iraq after withdrawal]? John King, that isn't being really debated in the Senate or the House or Congress. You know, we're -- as we're watching this unfold, whether it's on the campaign trail or whether it's on Capitol Hill, it's as if there are only two options before our policymakers, either full withdrawal or full "stay the course."
KING: And, yet, Lou if you ask a foreign-policy expert in either party, they will tell you that no matter what happens over the next several months, there will be 50 to 75,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.