Here’s a riddle: When is withdrawal not actually withdrawal? The answer: when the bulk of the troops don’t actually come home.
That seems to be the scenario envisioned by the Iraq Study Group when they recommended last week that the bulk of the US combat troops could leave Iraq by early 2008. According to the New York Times, frontline combat troops represent only 23 percent of the 140,000 US troops in Iraq.
“An analysis of the current numbers and tasks of American forces suggests that it will prove difficult to drop far below 100,000 by early 2008, and that 70,000 or more troops might have to stay for a considerable time,” the Times reports.
That doesn’t sound like much of an exit plan. Conventional wisdom held that the Baker-Hamilton commission would allow the Bush Administration to withdraw US troops without calling it withdrawal. In fact, just the opposite may occur.