Is the Iraq Withdrawal Slowing Down?

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We’re supposed to be well on our way to getting out of Iraq, but the Guardian reports that the drawdown of American troops has hit a roadbump thanks to the continuing disarray following the March parliamentary elections:

The White House is likely to delay the withdrawal of the first large phase of combat troops from Iraq for at least a month after escalating bloodshed and political instability in the country. General Ray Odierno, the US commander, had been due to give the order within 60 days of the general election held in Iraq on 7 March, when the cross-sectarian candidate Ayad Allawi edged out the incumbent leader, Nouri al-Maliki.

….The withdrawal order is eagerly awaited by the 92,000 US troops still in Iraq — they mostly remain confined to their bases. This month Odierno was supposed to have ordered the pullout of 12,500, a figure that was meant to escalate every week between now and 31 August, when only 50,000 US troops are set to remain — all of them non-combat forces.

Hmmm. On the other hand, Reuters has this:

The Pentagon said on Tuesday the U.S. drawdown from Iraq was on schedule despite this week’s deadly bombings and persistent political uncertainty.

The United States aims to withdraw 40,000 troops from Iraq over the next four months — a major logistical challenge which the Pentagon says will get under way in earnest in June…..Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell [] said he did not believe the pace of the withdrawal during the month of May had been altered because of recent events in Iraq. But he added the top U.S. commander in Iraq had some flexibility as long as the September 1 deadline was met.

So the May drawdown hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean the withdrawal is slowing down. There’s still some “flexibility” here.

I don’t know what this means. But it’s worth keeping an eye on. I really do believe that everyone from Obama on down on our side and from Maliki on down on the Iraqi side wants the withdrawal to go ahead on schedule. But there are always reasons to delay things. Always. The only way we’ll ever get out is to forge ahead regardless.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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