COMMENT: One of president-elect Obama’s top advisers has put forward one possible course of action in regards to Obama’s waffling Iraq-withdrawal campaign promises. With the idea that his popular support needs to be convinced of Obama’s anti-war leanings, Anthony Lake told the Financial Times that “even after withdrawing troops from Iraq over 16 months as he has promised,” the Obama administration would maintain “a residual presence for clearly defined missions”. These would include military training, and “preparedness to go back in if there are specific acts of genocidal violence”.

Mr Lake depicted the ­Democratic candidate as a tough-minded realist rather than an anti-war politician. “That is not ‘cut and run and let’s just see what happens’,” Mr Lake said. “It seems to me a very responsible strategy.”

Highlighting a parallel with his first posting as assistant to Henry Cabot Lodge, a US ambassador in 1960s Saigon, he said: “It is common sense that we could not leave Vietnam successfully unless we left behind a government in Saigon that could govern successfully.

“It seems obvious in retrospect… in Iraq it’s the same problem.”

Deborah Haynes Baquba
London Times
November 5, 2008

Iraq -US soldiers at a gym on a base north of Baghdad halted their workout routines to watch a television screen as news broke that Barack Obama will be the next commander in chief.

One African American trooper cheered with excitement, while others at Forward Operating Base Warhorse were less impressed. They had hoped John McCain, a military veteran, would take over the reigns from President Bush.

Iraqis were also caught up in the election fever, with many rejoicing at the Obama triumph, hoping that it would mean a hastier exit for some 145,000 US troops still based in their country.

The President-elect had promised during the campaign to withdraw all US combat forces from Iraq within 16 months after taking office.

“It’s really the time of change, like Mr Obama’s slogan,” said Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, a lawyer in the southern city of Basra. “Most important for us is what the changes will be for Iraq. I hope it will mean the withdrawal of US troops and the establishment of a good, diplomatic relationship between our two countries,” the 52-year-old added.


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