October 21, 2011 2:02PM

Obama: U.S. Troops to Leave Iraq

President Obama has just announced that U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of this year. Some might wonder if the Obama administration is bluffing, in the hope that Iraqi politicians will relent to U.S. demands.

The key sticking point appears to have been the Iraqis’ unwillingness to afford U.S. servicemen and women the legal protections extended by most other governments around the world. As I argued earlier this week, the United States should not concede to the Iraqis’ demands, which would expose our troops to serious threats to their rights and liberties.

It is possible that the two sides could resume negotiations. There will still be a very large U.S. diplomatic presence, including a sizable number of security personnel. But there will be only about 150 troops.

By that token, I think it increasingly likely that we will be celebrating the end of the Iraq war come January 1, 2012. I’m trying not to be overly optimistic. My hopes have been dashed many times. But the White House is trying to put a positive spin on the story. They are speaking of the progress that the Iraqis have made in the political and security realms. They have suggested that the Iraqis are truly capable of defending themselves and governing themselves. Whether they actually believe that is anyone’s guess, but if the Obama administration carries through on its promise to remove U.S. troops by the end of the year, the president and his national security team will have heeded the wishes of the American people, not to mention abided by their promises, and those of their predecessor.

This costly and counterproductive war—launched under false pretenses, sold to the American people as a cakewalk and an operation that would be paid for by Iraqi oil revenues—may finally, mercifully, be coming to an end. I certainly hope that is the case.