Is Obama’s Iraq Timetable Dead Before It Starts?

From its earliest stages the Obama campaign made a timetable for Iraq’s pullout a top priority promise. With another 74 days until he even takes office and the current administration’s rational for keeping the troops in place faltering fast, what he assured the voters would be his first action upon taking office may have already fallen by the wayside.

Obama had initially spoken of a 16-month timetable for removing all combat troops from Iraq, but later predicated that on assessments from military commanders. Now it seems, with violence down and Iraq eager to set a deadline to be rid of the troops, the senior commanders are going to tell Obama that his 16-month timetable is “physically impossible.

This would seem to explain the assurances from US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and assessments from Iraqi officials predicting that there will be no significant changes to the current administration’s Iraq policies when Obama takes over. One Iraqi official explained the perception by saying “most of Obama’s speeches were only for campaigning.”

Promises are made to be broken, it would seem. But with the ink on the paper ballots scarcely dry from Tuesday’s election and over two months remaining until the new President-elect is inaugurated, it would be awfully soon for the centerpiece promise of his campaign to be dead in the water.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.