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Any deadline to withdraw U.S. troops in Iraq only aids enemy

January 26, 2008
President Bush, prodded by reporters covering his trip to the Middle East to reveal plans to bring some U.S. troops home from Iraq, took precisely the right position.

Even though some troops already are scheduled to be pulled out of Iraq, he is open to any request by U.S. Gen. David Petraeus to delay some withdrawals, Bush said.

Regardless of what is in the minds of Bush and Petraeus, that announcement was the proper way to deal with plans for troop withdrawals. Any firm deadline set by U.S. officials — whether in the White House or in Congress — gives aid and comfort to our enemies in Iraq. It encourages them to continue attacking U.S. and Iraqi troops, as well as civilians. It may even spur them to increase their attacks.

Like other Americans, we want U.S. involvement in Iraq to end as soon as possible, compatible with U.S. policy goals in the Middle East. Given military successes during recent months, it may be that plans made by Bush and Petraeus can include accelerating withdrawal of troops. But tipping our hand to the enemy simply isn’t prudent — and could cost lives.



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