Obama broke a campaign promise to get the military out of Iraq by the end of 2011. To most Americans, this is not a surprise.
(LA TIMES) Reporting from Washington and Baghdad— The White House is prepared to keep as many as 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of the year, amid growing concern that the planned pullout of virtually all remaining American forces would lead to intensified militant attacks, according to U.S. officials.
Keeping troops in Iraq after the deadline for their departure at the end of December would require agreement of Iraq's deeply divided government, which is far from certain. The Iraqis so far have not made a formal request for U.S. troops to remain, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Some powerful Iraqi political forces are staunchly opposed to a continued U.S. presence.
The Obama administration has been debating how large a force to propose leaving in Iraq. It made its proposal now in hopes of spurring a request from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government, and to give the Pentagon time to plan, the officials said.
The idea of keeping any U.S. forces in Iraq remains deeply controversial, both in Iraq and the United States. Maliki faces pressure from hard-line members of his governing coalition not to extend the U.S. presence, and some American lawmakers strongly favor bringing all the remaining troops out on schedule.
As a candidate in 2008, President Obama promised to end the conflict in Iraq, and after taking office, he pledged to abide by the deadline. But administration officials have also signaled that they would be open to discussions with Maliki's government about extending the U.S. presence.
U.S. officials are concerned that Iraqi politicians will only make a decision after most or all of the remaining U.S. troops already have left, forcing the White House into the politically difficult position of deciding whether to send some forces back.