News today shows that due to two of Iraq’s most troubled cities, the June deadline to remove combat troops, might not be able to be met.
US troop numbers in Mosul and Baqubah, in the north of the country, could rise rather than fall over the next year if necessary, General Ray Odierno told The Times in his first interview with a British newspaper since taking over from General David Petraeus in September.
He said that a joint assessment would be conducted with the Iraqi authorities in the coming weeks before a decision is made.
Combat troops are due to leave all Iraqi cities by the end of June. Any delay would be a potential setback for President Obama, who has pledged to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq by August 2010 as he switches his focus to Afghanistan.
This puts Obama between a rock and a hard place. After the surge, which many doubted would work, did work, violence went down, people started returning home, businesses reopened, building started and Iraqi troops were being trained.
Obama took office with the war in Iraq on it's last legs and if Odierno is right and Obama has to choose between finishing it up and claiming complete victory, or satisfying his far left base, will he choose politics over the country or will he extend the deadline to assure that leaving won't throw Iraq into turmoil?
He was handed a win with Iraq and he will now have the opportunity to claim that win or snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Which will he do?