Obama advisor says 60 to 80 thousand troops need to stay in Iraq

An Obama adviser calls for 60-80,000 US troops to stay in Iraq, in a confidential memorandum obtained by Eli Lake of the New York Sun. Lake writes:

A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."

Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center's Web site as a policy brief.

Both Mr. Kahl and a senior Obama campaign adviser reached yesterday said the paper does not represent the campaign's Iraq position. Nonetheless, the paper could provide clues as to the ultimate size of the residual American force the candidate has said would remain in Iraq after the withdrawal of combat brigades. The campaign has not publicly discussed the size of such a force in the past.

The major media will not make an issue of this, of course, for they prefer the gauzy feel-good candidate to one who actually has to provide concrete answers to real questions. But it once again demonstrates that Obama's strategy is to be everything to everyone: a militant anti-war crusader who will pull troops out of Iraq ASAP to the Left, and a pragmatic realist who will defend the nation's interests and avoid defeat, to voters in the center.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky