Iraqi and American soldiers (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jacob H. Smith)

The President has announced the full withdrawal of US military troops from Iraq. This was put out a week ago unofficially, and then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (who’s a terrible Defense Secretary, by the way) tried half-heartedly to walk it back. But the decision has now been made.

Earlier this week there was some hope, with Muqtada al-Sadr’s blessing of a training mission after a “full withdrawal” of US troops, that some kind of training mission could be salvaged. So this is the “full withdrawal” part of that scenario.

More in a moment…

Here’s a full report of the President’s announcement.

“The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” the president said. “After nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

Obama vowed to work with the Iraqi government in the coming years, and said the two were “in full agreement about how to move forward.” […]

The Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq expires at the end of the year.
According to a White House official, “this deal was cut by the Bush administration, the agreement was always that at end of the year we would leave, but the Iraqis wanted additional troops to stay. We said here are the conditions, including immunities. But the Iraqis because of a variety of reasons wanted the troops and didn’t want to give immunity.
“So that’s it. Now our troops go to zero,” the official added.

So that’s an admission that troops would be staying if the Iraqis gave them immunity from prosecution.

The mission will no go down to a diplomatic mission, but a very large one. The sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad and points throughout Iraq will be stocked with as many as 16,000 officials and private security contractors protecting them. There will be some training component, “just like we have around the world,” according to Denis McDonough in a briefing. But it won’t be as robust as the initial plan.

Some would consider this a trade of uniforms, from military to diplomatic. But it does represent an end. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died as well as  over 4,000 US troops in over nine years. Well over a trillion dollars has been spent. More Iraqis will die as the US leaves a precarious state and a dangerous situation.

It was a war that never should have been fought.

David Dayen

David Dayen