US officials in Washington and Baghdad may pull as many as three brigades from Iraq by the time George Bush leaves office, the New York Times reports. The move, driven in part by a need to bolster the American presence in Afghanistan, could remove far more troops than seemed likely just months ago, and would mark a major shift in policy from the past few years.
Currently, there are 15 brigades in Iraq; such a withdrawal would leave 120,000 to 130,000 troops there. Attacks on US troops are at their rarest since 2004; more US and allied troops were killed in Afghanistan in May and June than were killed in Iraq. Reducing troop levels might serve John McCain in his quest for the White House by suggesting that Bush war policies have succeeded, the Times speculates.