Michele Flournoy Backs Off Residual Force In Iraq « The Washington Independent
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) asked Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy-designate, if she still supports a proposal she published for the Center for a New American Security in mid-2007 that would leave 60,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Flournoy’s answer: No.
“I think I would not be willing to stand behind that number at this time,” she said, clarifying that “when I wrote that it was at a somewhat different time, there was no SOFA commitment, [and] the security environment was different.” Flournoy added that a “very strong commitment” for the Obama administration and the Gates Pentagon was “implementing the SOFA and moving U.S. forces out of a combat role.” What remained uncertain was what, in 2011, when the SOFA’s requirments for a U.S. departure wrap up, “what support for Iraqi forces would look like, and we don’t know if the Iraqi government would want any U.S. forces.”
When pressed, she said it was “not necessarily” a requirement to keep a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq. And for the defense wonks out there, she said that she “do[es] not think Korea provides the right metaphor for what our longterm relationship with Iraq is and should be.” Korea, of couse, hosts tens of thousands of U.S. troops over half a century after the end of the Korean War.
It’s worth pointing out that the Center for a New American Security’s 2007 proposal basically struck the most robust position within the Democratic Party in favor of keeping troops in Iraq. (Although it should be noted that CNAS backed away from that somewhat in their 2008 Iraq policy.) So if that was a concern for people about Flournoy’s nomination, she went a long way toward putting that to rest.