Should the US have set a timetable or deadline for troop withdrawal?

PRO (yes)

The Gallup Organization conducted the following three polls from 2005 to 2007 to find American perspectives on the question:

"If you had to choose, which do you think is better for the U.S.: to set a timetable for removing troops from Iraq and remove them regardless of whether the U.S. goals are achieved by that time, or to keep a significant number of troops in Iraq until the U.S. achieves its goals there, regardless of how long that takes?" *

Poll Date
# Polled
(adults aged 18 and over)
Set Timetable
Troops Stay
No Opinion
May 4-6, 2007
Jan. 6-8, 2006
June 29-30, 2005
* Options rotated

2005 to 2007 - Gallup Organization 

Joshua Partlow, MS, Foreign Service Correspondent for the Washington Post, stated in a May 11, 2007 article titled "Iraqi Lawmakers Back Bill on U.S. Withdrawal":

"A majority of members of Iraq's parliament have signed a draft bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels...

The draft bill proposes a timeline for a gradual departure, much like what some U.S. Democratic lawmakers have demanded, and would require the Iraqi government to secure parliament's approval before any further extensions of the U.N. mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which expires at the end of 2007.

The draft bill is being championed by a 30-member bloc loyal to Sadr, but it has also gained support from some other Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish legislators. So far, at least 138 lawmakers have signed the proposed legislation, the slimmest possible majority in the 275-member parliament."

May 11, 2007 - Joshua Partlow, MS 

Wesley Clark, MA, retired US Army General and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, stated in a Nov. 28, 2006 interview with host of C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Pedro Echevarria:

"Pedro Echavarria: General Clark, your thoughts on the Iraq Studies Group recommendation for pullback?

General Wesley Clark: I think they're pretty common sense. I think its- there's no other way to proceed other than to have a regional diplomatic dialog, and, and I agree there should be a fixed timeline in front of the dialog...

It'd be a lot better to have the timeline come out of the dialog so that you've got- When you go into this regional dialog, you need a bag of carrots and sticks, and part of that bag of options is what you do with your troops."

Nov. 28, 2006 - Wesley Clark, MA 

Christopher Shays, MPA, MBA, US Representative (R-CT) at the time of the quote, is quoted by Washington Post correspondent Anushka Asthana in an Aug. 25, 2006 article titled "Shays Urges Iraq Withdrawal":

"My view is that it may be that the only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for troop withdrawal... A timeline of when the bulk of heavy lifting is in the hands of the Iraqis."

Aug. 25, 2006 - Christopher Shays, MPA, MBA 
Anushka Asthana 

Cable News Network (CNN), in an Apr. 26, 2007 article titled "Senate Passes Iraq Withdrawal Bill; Veto Threat Looms," stated:

"...[T]he Senate passed a war funding bill Thursday that sets a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by next April. The 51 votes cast for the bill are nowhere near the 67 needed to override a veto, which Bush says he will deliver swiftly. The House passed the same measure on a 218-208 vote Wednesday night. Thursday's vote was 51-46. Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon joined Democrats in supporting the bill. Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, voted with Republicans opposing it."

Apr. 26, 2007 - CNN 

CON (no)

George W. Bush, MBA, US President, in a May 1, 2007 speech, stated:

"Twelve weeks ago, I asked the Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that would provide our brave men and women in uniform with the funds and flexibility they need.

Instead, members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed this bill. Here is why the bill Congress passed is unacceptable. First, the bill would mandate a rigid and artificial deadline for American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq...

It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength -- and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq.

I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure -- and that would be irresponsible."

May 1, 2007 - George W. Bush, MBA 

Nouri al-Maliki, MA, Prime Minister of Iraq, was quoted in an Apr. 10, 2007 USA TODAY article titled "No Timetable on U.S. Pullout":

"We see no need for a withdrawal timetable. We are working as fast as we can...To demand the departure of the troops is a democratic right and a right we respect. What governs the departure at the end of the day is how confident we are in the handover process."

Apr. 10, 2007 - USA TODAY 
Nouri al-Maliki, MA 

John Abizaid, MA, retired US Army General and former Commander of the US Central Command, stated in a Nov. 15, 2006 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

"At this stage in the campaign, we’ll need flexibility to manage our force and to help manage the Iraqi force. Force caps and specific timetables limit flexibility. We must also remember that our enemies have a vote in this fight. The enemy watches not only what we do on the ground but what we say and do here at home."

Nov. 15, 2006 - John Philip Abizaid, MA 

Joe Lieberman, LLB, US Senator (ID-CT), stated in a Sep. 25, 2006 speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post, according to Associated Press correspondent Dave Collins in a Sep. 25, 2006 Washington Post article titled "Lieberman Blasts Troop Pullout Timeline":

"The clear choice before Connecticut's voters in this campaign is Ned Lamont's plan for giving up on Iraq and my plan for getting the job done there...

The Lamont plan for immediate withdrawal and an arbitrary deadline is doomed to fail and weaken our security...It will leave our troops more vulnerable to attack while they remain, and will leave Iraq to become a failed state and a terrorist breeding ground when we're gone...

It will only grow, that terrorist threat, worse if we follow the Lamont plan and rush our troops out to meet an arbitrary, politically preset deadline."

Sep. 25, 2006 - Joe Lieberman, LLB 
Dave Collins 

FOX News, in a June 16, 2006 article titled "House Rejects Timetable for Troop Withdrawal From Iraq," stated:

"The House passed a nonbinding resolution in a 256-153 vote that would praise U.S. troops, link the Iraq war to the global War on Terror and reject an 'arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment' for not being in the national interest...

The House vote follows the Senate's rejection in a 93-6 vote Thursday to a similar proposal that would allow 'only forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces' to stay in Iraq in 2007."

June 16, 2006 - FOX News