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This Isn't 50,000 Cooks

10:48 AM, Feb 26, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Nancy Pelosi appeared on MSNBC last night and discussed Obama's much-hyped withdrawal strategy:

MADDOW: Doesn't 50,000 seem like an awful lot for a residual force.

PELOSI: I completely agree with that. And the president hasn't made a statement, so I don't know what he's going to say.

I know what the rumors -- and I don't know what the justification is for 50,000, a presence of 50,000 troops in Iraq. I do think that there's a need for some. I don't know that all of them have to be in country. They can be platformed outside.

I'll just be interested to see what the president has to say. But I do think that -- I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.

If Obama plans to remove two-thirds of U.S. troops from Iraq, leave 50,000 behind, and claim the complete withdrawal of "combat" forces -- you can see why Pelosi would be frustrated. Any Democrat who's being honest with himself will realize that this is nothing more than a charade -- this isn't going to be 50,000 cooks and advisers. It will be an acknowledgment that the kind of withdrawal Obama talked about during the campaign simply isn't prudent or responsible, despite the fact that large numbers of his supporters championed just such a strategy. And still, there will be a legitimate concern that even this withdrawal is too much, too fast. If the situation deteriorates, it will be Obama that has to decide whether to send troops back in or abandon our allies in Iraq. With 50,000 U.S. troops already there, it's not hard to imagine how that will play out.

Either way, the left should follow Pelosi's lead and stop pretending that 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq -- almost as many as would be in Afghanistan -- represents something other than a complete rejection of the antiwar, out-of-Iraq-now rhetoric the MoveOn crowd has been using for years. At least Pelosi has the courage to admit it.

HT: Ben Smith