Ponder that President Obama--the anti-Bush--is now relying on the so-called Bush policy expertise that this administration and their defenders have gone to great lengths to deride as incompetent.
But the fact is, leaving in 2011 was not the Bush policy. A 3-year pact was an interim pact meant to be replaced with a new one.
If the Bush agreement was not an interim agreement, why did the Obama administration negotiate with Iraq for a new one all through much of 2011?
Let me provide examples that the notion of staying in Iraq was assumed in 2008 and not some post-2011 conservative ploy to unjustly attack president Obama.
In early 2006 (before the sectarian killing dramatically escalated that year) I spoke of keeping troops in Iraq:
Even after Iraq can defend itself, I could see a few American combat brigades and Air Force units remaining in the 25,000-30,000 level for a long time if the Iraqis are agreeable.
At the time the new 3-year agreement was signed, I said I assumed a new agreement would replace that 3-year deal to keep our troops in Iraq:
My guess is that the Iraqis will negotiate a new agreement to keep Americans in Iraq even after 2011. Iraq still needs us to guarantee that external threats are kept at bay while the Iraqis build up their conventional military power. Remember, Iraq's military is almost purely a counter-insurgency force now and cannot fight conventional enemy forces.
And even if some miracle of events leads to the overthrow of the Iranian mullahs and the neutering of the Syrian Baathist regime, Iraq will still need our armed presence to set parameters for resolving political disagreements inside Iraq. Remember, it isn't the factionalism that is a problem as far as I'm concerned. The question is whether the Iraqis settle their disputes through rule of law and accept election results (unlike the Thai losers of the last election who demand power despite their loss) as a mandate to govern and not to plunder--and if the losers understand that the winners won't use 50% plus one as a mandate to oppress the losers, the losers will gear up for the next election and to oppose the majority through the legal system and media rather than stockpiling arms.
in August 2010, I called for 25,000 to be kept in Iraq after 2011.
In January 2011, amidst reports that President Obama had little interest in a new agreement, I still called for 25,000.
In April 2011, I argued against only keeping only 10,000 as the administration proposed, but I did credit the administration with wanting to keep somebody in Iraq after 2011 while moaning about Iraqi reticence.
And in September 2011, I even tried to figure out how just 3,000 troops could be made to work.
Face it, it was always assumed that there would be a new agreement for a post-2011 American military presence. Acting as if leaving in 2011 was the Bush plan all along is just nonsense.