No other issue played a more important role in Barack Obama’s meteoric rise than the war in Iraq. His close victory over Hillary Clinton for the nomination was due to his opposition to the war while his opponent, who led in the polls, marked time on the issue.
Political differences on the Iraq question have long been reality in Washington. During the campaign, Republicans painted Obama as the candidate of surrender. The fact was, however, that John McCain and Barack Obama were more in agreement on the issue than the overheated rhetoric suggested. The consensus in Washington has favored withdrawal for some time now. Even George W. Bush proposed a withdrawal by the end of 2011, while Obama campaigned on a 16-month withdrawal deadline. That has since been extended slightly. Democrats publicly groan, McCain praises the president. Is this a breach of promise? Hardly.
The serious economic crisis and a dramatic budget situation in the U.S. ensure that the Obama administration will withdraw troops from Iraq as quickly as Washington deems it can do so responsibly. An expensive war has gotten even less popular now in a time of recession and America’s generals would rather put more troops into Afghanistan in any case.
Obama wants to give the withdrawal as much time as possible because no one knows exactly how stable the situation really is in Iraq. Most observers are of the opinion that it is calmer, but not yet pacified. Under the current president, the United States will bring its troops home, probably sooner rather than later.