Osama bin Laden's death gave the U.S. a temporary boost in confidence about our Middle East operations. Now, the buzzkill: the Pentagon has confirmed that U.S. troops in Iraq might be staying longer than the originally projected Dec 31, 2011 withdrawal date, according to the Huffington Post.
"[W]e are willing to entertain a request for continued assistance, consistent with our commitment to a long-term partnership with Iraq — but the ball is in the Iraqis' court to ask," Pentagon spokeswoman Elizabeth Robbins wrote to the Huffington Post in an email.
With approval of the Iraq war at thirty-three percent in the U.S., any move towards continuing our presence in Iraq is not likely to be a popular one, and the decision to keep troops in Iraq or to adhere to the original withdrawal date has to be made quickly. This is because "withdrawal" means a lot more than just bringing boots off the sand: it involves bringing back around 63,000 contractors, closing 100 bases and getting rid of one-million pieces of equipment. Not only are these logistical nightmares on the part of the Army and other parties, but they're tactical moves that could leave the perpetually harried Iraq military overwhelmed.
Compounding matters is the fact that during the run up to election season, neither party wants to be the one to announce an increase in federal funding to a war that has been "ended" twice now, especially when the budget is under such brutal scrutiny.
Discussion of the Iraq war has recently been refreshingly free of the "q" word (spoiler: the "q" word is "quagmire"), but this announcement might change that again.