Gates: US Open to Continuing Iraq War

If Iraqi Govt Asks, US Likely to Stay Past 2011

Speaking today in Malaysia, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates raised the prospect of the Obama Administration keeping the Iraq War going past the 2011 deadline negotiated by the Bush Administration in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

We’re ready to have that discussion if and when they want to raise it with us,” Gates said, adding that the “initiativ clearly needs to come from the Iraqis; we are open to discussing it.”

Though President Obama made much of the fake ends to the Iraq War in August, some 50,000 US troops remain on the ground, and despite being formally renamed “non-combat” troops they continue to engage in combat missions and receive combat pay.

Of course the real roadblock to this plan of keeping the war going is that Iraq doesn’t actually have a government right now – eight months after the election they still have a caretaker government with no authority to ask the US to continue its occupation. Gates says he expects the new government, assuming one is formed, to wait a few months before asking the US to stay.

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.