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Obama Bill Sets Date For Troop Withdrawal

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  • Greg Cannon
    Not that Congress could, or would, override Bush s veto. If it did pass though, the troops would be leaving right at the height of next year s primaries. But
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2007
      Not that Congress could, or would, override Bush's
      veto. If it did pass though, the troops would be
      leaving right at the height of next year's primaries.
      But that is too cynical of me.


      Obama Bill Sets Date For Troop Withdrawal
      Candidate Goes Further Than Rivals

      By Shailagh Murray
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Wednesday, January 31, 2007; Page A04

      Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, one of the most
      prominent Democrats in the 2008 presidential field,
      proposed for the first time setting a deadline for
      withdrawing troops from Iraq, as part of a broader
      plan aimed at bolstering the freshman senator's
      foreign policy credentials.

      Obama's legislation, offered on the Senate floor last
      night, would remove all combat brigades from Iraq by
      March 31, 2008. The date falls within the parameters
      offered by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which
      recommended the removal of combat troops by the first
      quarter of next year.

      "The days of our open-ended commitment must come to a
      close," Obama said in his speech. "It is time for us
      to fundamentally change our policy. It is time to give
      Iraqis their country back."

      The senator offered his ideas in the midst of an
      intense congressional debate over President Bush's
      latest Iraq proposal, to deploy an additional 21,500
      U.S. troops to curtail an increasingly virulent
      insurgency. It also coincides with the launch of the
      2008 campaign, with Obama, as well as Sen. Hillary
      Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), former senator John Edwards
      (N.C.) and other Democrats forming exploratory

      Obama's timetable for completing a withdrawal puts him
      at odds with other leading rivals for the Democratic
      nomination. Clinton supports capping the number of
      troops at their levels of Jan. 1. Sen. Christopher J.
      Dodd (Conn.) has proposed a similar troop cap. But
      neither has embraced a timetable for a troop removal.
      Edwards has been outspoken in his opposition to Bush's
      new plan and has called for the immediate withdrawal
      of 40,000 to 50,000 troops. But he, too, has stopped
      short of setting firm date by which all would be

      New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is the only other
      prominent Democrat in the field to set a withdrawal
      timetable, declaring that troops "can and should" be
      brought home by the end of 2007.

      The Obama plan, called the Iraq War De-escalation Act
      of 2007, would begin a troop withdrawal no later than
      May 1, 2007, but it includes several caveats that
      could forestall a clean break:

      It would leave a limited number of troops in place to
      conduct counterterrorism activities and train Iraqi
      forces. And the withdrawal could be temporarily
      suspended if the Iraqi government meets a series of
      benchmarks laid out by the Bush administration. That
      list includes a reduction in sectarian violence; the
      equitable distribution of oil revenue; government
      reforms; and democratic, Iraqi-driven reconstruction
      and economic development efforts. Obama's proposal
      also would reverse Bush's troop-increase plan.

      The buildup is broadly opposed by Democrats, who
      believe that their constituents want to see the war

      Obama described his proposal as a mainstream package
      of well-vetted ideas, consistent with the Iraq Study
      Group's recommendations and "with what the American
      people demanded in the November election," when they
      voted Republicans out of power in both the House and
      the Senate.

      "When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for
      promises and assurances, for waiting and for patience,
      is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many
      billions of dollars have been spent, for us to trust
      the president on another tired and failed policy," he

      Staff writer Dan Balz contributed to this report.
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