Iraq pullout supported by 75 percent of Americans (poll)

U.S Army Soldiers are seen during the hand-over ceremony of a military base in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2011. The American ambassador to Iraq on Wednesday dismissed a proposal to keep as few as 3,000 troops as not credible, signaling a debate between President Obama's advisers in Baghdad and Washington of the U.S. military's future in Iraq with time running out to decide.
AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani
U.S Army Soldiers are seen during the hand-over ceremony of a military base in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani

According to a recent Gallup poll,75 percent of Americans support President Obama's recent decision to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. Democrats and independents were strongly in favor of the troop withdrawal, while a slight majority Republicans disapproved of the decision.

The deadline to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011 was set in 2008. While some U.S. officials would have preferred to maintain a U.S. troop presence, Iraqi leaders refused to provide immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for U.S. troops stationed in the country. This proved unacceptable to the White House.

In the wake of Mr. Obama's decision to bring the troops home this year, his political opponents cried foul, saying the troop withdrawal was driven by a political rather than military agenda. Based on their statements, it appears the battling GOP nominees are making their own political hay with the Iraq troop withdrawal. 

Mitt Romney said, "President Obama's astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq."

Michele Bachmann concluded that Mr. Obama's decision was a "political decision and not a military one," representing the "complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen."

Herman Cain didn't totally disagree with the troop withdrawal date, but had other criticisms. "Whether or not it's the right thing to do, I would consult with the commanders. The thing I wouldn't do that the president is doing is telling the enemy how many troops you're going to bring out and when you are going to bring them out. I don't think that's a good strategy," he said.

Jon Huntsman determined that the lack of ongoing troop presence in Iraq is a "mistake and the product of his administration's failures."

"The president's inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts," he added.

Rick Perry expressed deep concern that Mr. Obama is "putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment."   

In sum, the GOP presidential aspirants don't agree with the majority of American people, at least as represented in the Gallup poll. On the other hand, they reflect what a slight majority (52 percent disapproved of the decision and 43 percent approved) of Republican party members polled want and their political agenda. 

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    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.