"[Keep] U.S. troops without end in Iraq?" Carney asked during a media briefing Monday aboard Air Force One en route to Las Vegas. "Are they suggesting that we violate an agreement that's signed by the [former President George W.] Bush administration with the sovereign government of Iraq? That we keep troops there without the consent and agreement of the Iraqi government?
He noted that President Obama's announcement Friday to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of the year keeps a commitment made during the 2008 campaign as well as keeps an agreement signed by the Iraqi government and the Bush administration.
"What planet are they living on?" Carney asked of the critics. "This president has, from the very beginning when he ran for office, made clear what he wanted to do in Iraq, which was end this war responsibly in a way that was in the best interests of the United States. He made clear from the beginning that he would keep the commitment made by the Bush administration with the sovereign Iraqi government to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of 2011. In the interim he has kept commitments to withdraw all U.S. forces from the cities in the summer of 2009."
The "eruption of violence" that critics said would occur as the drawdown U.S. troops began and as U.S. military facilities closed "didn't happen," Carney said. "Security improved."
Carney said the administration is confident the Iraqi people and politicians "have chosen politics as a mean to resolve their differences" and demonstrated a commitment to Iraq and an Iraqi nationalism that "rejects the idea of undue and unwelcome Iranian influence in their national affairs."
"The fact of the matter is that Iran, despite many efforts to control outcomes in Iraq, has failed again and again," the spokesman said. "And we will continue to work with Iraq as we build this post-2011 partnership with them to ensure that their sovereignty continues to strengthen."
He said the United States has its view on Iranian behavior and "we obviously have a lot of means to address that issue."
"We remain very confident that Iraq has the capacity to maintain its own security," Carney said. "They've been in the security lead now for quite a long time and have done it effectively. And they will continue to do that."
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