Gordon Brown Signals Iraq Troop Withdrawl
Another European leader signals that it is time to get out of Iraq
Gordon Brown today paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, promising a “fundamental change” of mission in the first half of 2009.
In a Commons statement, the prime minister heaped praise on the work of British soldiers and insisted the security situation in Basra had been “transformed”.
“We will continue to reduce the number of British troops in Iraq,” Brown said.
“Just as last year we moved from combat to ‘overwatch’, we would expect a further fundamental change of mission in the first months of 2009 as we make the transition to a long term bilateral partnership with Iraq, similar to the normal relationships which our military forces have with other important countries in the region.”
More excellent news for Obama, on the heels of his well received presser in Jordan:
All eyes were on Obama to see how he would perform on a world stage with every political reporter of any consequence either on the trip with him or watching closely on television.
And, as he has done before in the course of the campaign, Obama seemed to be up to the moment — sensing the need to convey gravitas and bipartisanship while also strongly defending his own beliefs about America’s role in Iraq and the broader Middle East.
Gone were the jokes and “rah rah” language that won over many Obama partisans but left many undecided voters wondering whether there was any there when it came to the Illinois senator. Instead, we saw a serious explication of his position on removing combat troops in Iraq, a position bolstered in recent days by repeated calls by the Iraqi government to remove U.S. military forces from the country by 2010.
There seem to be some concerns about a backlash on this trip (Obama being perceived as taking a victory lap), but it’s too soon to tell if that will actually happen. The media however seems to really be taking to this meme and perhaps John McCain’s complaints about media love will fully take hold, which will lead to increased scrutiny of Obama. But Obama should certainly be careful as he winds this trip up in any case.