How Many Troops will Obama Withdraw from Iraq?

The InTrade prediction markets allows individuals to bet on the winner of the presidential elections and US recession timings.  They can also be used to bet on US foreign policy.  The graph below shows the contract price for the outcome “Number of US Troops in Iraq (given a Democratic president) as of June 2010.”

A couple of features stand out.  First, the price was relatively constant for almost all of 2008.  Second, the price has fluctuated wildly since November 5th and is now 30% below its 2008 average.  Here is how you calculate the implied June 2010 troop level from the contract price:

expected 2010 troop level = contract price x 2000

As of the end of June [pdf], there were 183,100 troops participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  So a price for a “no change in troop levels” is 91.55 compared to a current price of 29.9. This price says that the Intrade “market” expects about 60,000 US troops in Iraq by the end of June 2010. (Note: As a thinly traded contract, it is difficult to infer true market expectations from the price.)  If you predict less “change” from this administration, you might think this is an extremely low number.  If you have little hope for real change, then perhaps you should purchase the contract today.  Contracts on other foreign policy-related issues are also available:

Gitmo closed by December 31st, 2009 (low number –> low predicted likelihood)

Gates as Sec. of Defense (high number –> high expected likelihood)

56 thoughts on “How Many Troops will Obama Withdraw from Iraq?”

    1. bring em home hell….. lets leave the war to the men that get paid to do their jobs and stop tryin to solve all world issues with nothing but bullshit bitchin and nonsence.. if u had all the answers then why the hell sit around on a computer when you could be out acctually doing a job …….. cut the military some slack cause Obama is gonna screw them royaly …….. our military already knows that most of the nation has turned its back on them just like this site!
      stop acting like you care cause from what i have read you all could careless… all you want is a place to bitch and grip about things that dont go just the way you want!
      life is far from perfect so get over your damn selves and step into the real world…..

  1. Before the election one needed to take into account the probability of a Democrat becoming president to evaluate the expected number of troops in Iraq given the price of DEM.PRES-TROOPS.IRAQ. See an analysis at

    I’m VERY happy to see a post on prediction markets and “foreign” policy here.

  2. Congratulations on electing first African-American as Terrorist-in-Chief.
    He will obey the lobby’s orders blindly just as as the present one.
    We sure live in interesting times.

    1. I understand Mr. subHuman that you have a genetic sinking feeling, so blow the ballast and see the sea its not all the abyss

      1. The ONLY difference between The Terrorist in Chief and Mr. Bin Laden are the weapons.
        New Evil Empire spends more on weapons of terror and destruction than the next 42 countries combined.
        No wonder they can’t afford to have health care plan for ALL regardless of cast.

  3. How Many Troops will Obama Withdraw from Iraq?

    Taking this question at literal face value, Obama will assuredly withdraw some troops from the Mess in Potamia, probably at the behest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and purely for strategic reasons. However, for each soldier withdrawn there will at some point soon thereafter be another deployed to the theater of operations, either as part of normal troop rotation or as part of the commitment of strategic specialized forces (e.g., SpecOps) in response to some newly-created regional crisis.

    In the end this means a net withdrawal of zero in terms of overall reduction of presence.

    Rahm Emmanuel will, of course, make sure that that Puppet Emperor (Viceroy?) doesn’t get too much of an autonomous itch and make any moves that will disrupt the Israeli government’s plans for the region.

    1. Yes, your’s is a prediction on which one can rely. No American troops will be returning to the United States. And, of course, such was the will of the people in the elections of 2006 and 2008. I say that with intended sarcasm, natually. Yet, in their captivity, the people feel so powerless, so desperate for positives, that they are willing to accept any morsel from these weasels rather than requiring the truth of them. As the years pass – and there have been all too many of them – nothing becomes more and more apparent than the enormous gulf between the public interest and those that serve it. They are worms, jackels. I doubt that I will live long enough ever to see a movement develop which is sufficently self-possessed to be an authentic counterpoise.

      1. I think that the spreading and deepening economic meltdown will place a limit on the reach of the Empire. I recall reading somewhere recently that only 10% of our military spending goes toward defending the US. The rest is used to defend some countries and intimidate many others.

        One would hope that even the densest flag wavers, who are probably among those now hurting the most financially, will come to realize that, except for genuine national defense, military spending is, at the very least, a horrendous waste of wealth. If the public clamor from such an awakening is insufficient to alarm our “public servants” into rolling up the Empire, then perhaps widespread food riots in the Homeland will do the trick. The troops will be brought home to save the political class from streetlamps.

  4. I’m confident that president elect obama will ensure all of the us troops will be home between
    the last quarter of 2009 and mid 2010. He is very much aware of the dangers in the fire zones and how urgent this situation is. If he can bring the troops home that soon, then President Bush needs to sit back to take some lessions on basic politics and go back to school for some fundamental education. As for Americans today, we must keept the faith and work with obama.
    He is our “American Black Knight” to save the day. Let’s also help Obama get our country back in shape! IN GOD WE TRUST.

    1. What planet are you from? Osama won’t have the time to do anyhting since he will be trying to figure out just what he is doing in the WH in the first place. never has a individual been so galactically unqualified for a position of power.

      He will have to begin campaigning IMMEDIATELY if he has any chance of re election. And even then he will AGAIN have to depend on the liberal media to cover up for him and once again bullsh*t the American people. That Zogby (a Democrat) poll said it all. Only TWP PERCENT of those voting for “The One” new ANYTUJING about him or his back round, including his scandalous associations.

      The terrorists are dancing in the streets because they know they have a free shot at us. Everyone knows Dems are cowards, won’t fight and will make any excuse to avoid “upsetting” the savages who want us all dead.

  5. I got the awful feeling the troops withdrawn will just be sent to the lost war in Afghanistan, just jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

  6. I will be counting down the days until May 20, 2010, which is sixteen months to the day that Obama was sworn in. (This is, of course, a reference to his promise to remove all US troops from Iraq* within Sixteen months.) After that, if the US has significant numbers of troops, anyone with ANY backbone should hammer him on this point, be they left or right, pro-war or anti-war.

    Of course, given how Obama has gone back on his promises, I think it’s very likely that there will be little to no change, and that Obama can justifiably sued for false advertising. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help…”

    * I may be willing to grant him a little leeway. If the US has only a small force to train the Iraqi military (like the forces they have training the Colombians or others of similar ilk- definitely not the levels we have in Germany or Italy), I won’t mind. And I won’t count the marine guards at the embassy, which the US has in every country…

    1. Orville,

      “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help…”


      There is no salvation in ideology or reason nor will there ever be. Our hope is in the presence of God the Son, Jesus Christ, who loves us.

  7. Did not Nixon say that he had a plan to get “us” out of Vietnam too!?

    And six years later, we were out. What’s your point?

    1. Thrown out, clinging to helo skids. Probably that IS the future for the US in Iraq, Afghanistan. Things could be worse: think about the British retreat from Kabul in the 1st Afghan War, and the ONE survivor.

      Lester Ness

  8. We will get out of Iraq when we get thrown out. The matter is really in Iraqi hands. Americans are unable to move on. We are unable to change our government. Already the Obama Presidentcy is looking like Clinton third term with a good chunk of Bush third term thrown in. Same people – Emanuel, Volker, Gates, Hillary, etc.,etc,etc.
    Plus, America can’t seem to grow up. We can’t accept our invasion/occupation of Iraq as evil; we insist upon “Victory”. We are always the good guys. So as long as American casulties are relatively low, we will stay. I am reminded of the Viet-Nam War. We only stopped bombing North Viet-Nam when the “enemy” learned to blow our B52s out of the air (I was a young engineer working on electronic jamming at an Air Force base then) – one week we suddenly lost 8 each B52s and we had no clue as to how they figured this out so we stopped sending B52s north. We pulled our troops out because too many were getting killed, not because of any pangs of conscience. We quit supporting South Viet-Nam because they were ineffective.
    Obama would be powerless against the VFW and the right-wing talk shows with their fulsome macho patriotism. Don’t expect it. The Israeli First lobby will never allow it. American troops will leave Iraq when thet are thrown out.

    1. Iraqis them self are not good soldiers. Even weaker then US soldiers, which were no match to Vietnamese. Therefore US army will stay in Iraq. By the way Talibs are good soldiers.

      I predict that unless the US will stop messing with missiles in Poland…. Russia would assist Talibs (very covertly) with arms, economic support and closed transit through Russia. Afghanistan will be free finally.

      At the same time the missiles in Polland will not happen – even military force will be used – worst case. But I believe that Russia would be able to do enough damage to the US indirectly. And that amount of damage would be quite disproportionate I’m sure – these missiles in Poland are most stupid part of US Empire agenda. Russia is well known to get really wild in times of most danger, as opposed to time of peace and relaxed environment. And nuclear warhead capable missiles with 4 minutes delivery time to Moscow is exactly that kind of danger that would result in a reaction that would resolve the issue – even if taking back the Eastern Europe would be required to handle the problem. And Germany would not be very upset… especially if Poland can be split… again :-)

      But Obama will not do anything positive during the next 2-3 years, that I’m very certain, he will continue the Titanic course the US Empire is heading currently.

      1. Vassili
        To me, Russia has shown considerable maturity in not returning the favor we did them in providing the “mujahdeen” with arms back when the Russians were in Afghanistan. We took great delight in providing the bullets to kill the Soviet soldiers.
        Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, America has taken further delight in fostering “democratic” political activity at Russia’s doorstep. Again Russia has shown restraint except for that idiocy by Georgia.
        But this “missile shield” is going way too far. America is spending money to pull a manuever that will accomplish nothing except to provoke anger from Russia. The missiles will defend no one (there isn’t even a threat). In itself, it is a threat to Russia. (Can anyone remember our feelings about Russian missiles in Cuba?) What craziness!
        America has become addicted to the strychnine of militarism. Strychnine can be a stimulant in small dose, but a killer in large. The poison of militarism is the most striking feature of the Bush Administration – the great public adulation of weapons of death and the fawning over the killer priests in uniform. The mandatory flyovers of our bombers at every outdoor sporting event, the policy addresses by our President always before militaristic groups like the VFW, the call for military conquest of Islam from the pulpits; it is all poisonous. And like all poisoned animals, we are actually weak and vulnerable.
        How long before some country like Russia feels the need to pre-emptively strike.

        1. We see now that we even poisoned our own soldiers during Gulf War I, dousing them with pesticides and nerve gas retardents that are debilitating for life. Battlefield casualties were small, but we poisoned about a quarter of our own. We are like mad dogs biting ourselves.

    2. (I was a young engineer working on electronic jamming at an Air Force base then) – one week we suddenly lost 8 each B52s and we had no clue as to how they figured this out so we stopped sending B52s north. We pulled our troops out because too many were getting killed, not because of any pangs of conscience.

      Get a clue, pal. The fact is we never lost a single mi8litary engagement with the North VN and that includes the Tet Offensive which was a DISASTER for the North in spite of Walter Cronkite telling all of us differently. The reason we left with our tails between our legs was because the liberals in ther Congress cut the funding for the troops and we had no choice. They were cowards then as they are now and their cowardice cost the lives of 2 MILLIONH South Vietnamese who were slaughtered by the North as they swept into the South after our leaving.

      As for the losses of the B-52? In TOTAL we lost 15 aircraft for the entire war while using this aircraft to bludgeon the enemy into negotiations. In fact had we not run like chickens because of the liberals, we would have secured the victory and peace. This is admitted by no one less then the leader of the entire NV forces, Gen Giap in his book.

      Suggest you read the book and stop making a fool of yourself in front of the world.

  9. Positioning himself for reelection in 2012, Obama will make everyone semi happy by bringing some troops home and sending some from Iraq directly to Afghanistan. It’s a deal everyone can accept. Everyone gets some of what they want, except the poor soldiers that will only get a different place to die, or have pieces of them blown off.

  10. The SOFA agreement just came out. ALL coalition troops OUT by 2011. Most out by end of 2009.

    I hope it stays that way. But I’m not counting chickens yet.

  11. You should always read the fine print to any agreement or contract!American bases would be beyond the control of the host country,and still thousands would be stationed on those bases after those dates.

    1. I repeat my comment – we will not leave Iraq until they throw us out. If they ask us politely to leave, we will politely refuse. We are there to have permanent bases in the Mid East as a base to wage endless war against the Muslims. Many right-wingers will tell you (with a straight face) that we paid for Iraq with our blood and money and it is ours to do with as we wish.
      There is no hope for a population as deluded and fond of militarism as we are – no hope except for the face full of icy water that a major recession/depression will bring.

  12. Here’s my idea of real change. (Not that I’m holding my breath).

    1) Normalize relations with Cuba. End the stupid trade and travel embargo.
    2) Kill that stupid “missile shield”.
    3) Send all the troops home from South Korea and end the “mutual” defense alliance.
    4) Bring all the troops home from Japan and Okinawa and end the “mutual” defense alliance.
    5) Withdraw from the moribund NATO alliance.
    6) All troops home from Iraq in one year.
    7) Begin negotiations with the Taliban and Pashtuns to end the lost war in Afghanistan and bring the troops home.
    8) Cease all “foreign aid” to Israel. Why should well-fed Jews get 3-4 billion a year in “foreign aid” when sub-Saharan Africans are starving & the American economy is collapsing.
    9) Force AIPAC to register as an agent of a foreign country.
    10) Stabilize our southern border with Mexico.
    11) Stop all immigration. A long time is needed to digest and absorb the tens of millions who have arrived since 1965, just like in 1924 immigration was stopped to absorb the Ellis island era arrivals.
    12) Reduce military spending by 75%. Put the money saved into healthcare.
    13) Repeal the “patriot act” and restore civil liberties.
    14) Repeal the Taiwan straits act. Tell Taiwan it is on its own.
    15) Dissolve the military-industrial-congressional complex.
    16) Make English the official language of the United States.
    17) Stop invading other countries.
    18) End the “war on drugs”. Marijuana is less dangerous then the neoconservatives are.
    19) Just make America a peaceful and normal country.

    1. Let’s round out your otherwise very thorough list with:

      20) Pardon all those imprisoned on drug charges.

      The Constitution does not give the federal government any power to regulate what we decide to put in our bodies.

      1. The “war on drugs” reminds me of the “war on alcohol” (prohibition) fought in the 1920’s. It was wasteful, counter-productive and a boon to organized crime. It turned millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. What Washington policy-makers won’t accept is that in a free country, free people are simply not going to stop doing something, simply because their government doesn’t want them to.

        1. Although you’re right, you also show that bit of US mentality that is a problem – in ANY country people would not stop doing something simply because their government doesn’t want them to. That is human nature. Govt. shall prohibit only things that damage social fabric in a gross way. Like unbounded credit emission :-) for example.

        2. I really don’t see how smoking Marijuana in one’s own living room “grossly damages” society any more then drinking a glass of Whisky does. I don’t think that should give the police the “right” to bash down my door like a bunch of stormtroopers and drag me away like an animal.

  13. Obama won’t withdraw any more than the Republicans give him permission to. Obama will ALWAYS take the path of least resistance.

  14. Many right-wingers will tell you (with a straight face) that [they] paid for Iraq with [their] blood and money and it is [theirs] to do with as [they] wish.
    There is no hope for a population as deluded and fond of militarism as [they] are – no hope except for the face full of icy water that a major recession/depression will bring.

    How about somebody cutting off the supply lines from Basra to 150,00 of their government employees and 300,000 of their government contractors? You’d think a good Dien Bein Phu would slap some sense into these Yanks, but I wouldn’t count on it. They’d probably use it as the marketing theme for a last gasp attempt at a Hyper-Military-Keynesianist Total War and Total Command Economy to bring us out of the Greater Depression the same way WWII brought us out of the Great Depression.

  15. I would think he would have to bring home most of the troops. The country is bankrupt. How can we keep funding this mess.

    1. Have some more Kool Aide, lib. If you had even the slightest clue about what is awaiting us with this ERO in the WH come 1/21/09 you’ld be hiding under the bed with the rest of the chickensh*t left wingers.

  16. alright. so i’m a freshman and i have to do a debate on to pull the troops out of iraq or to not pull them. i have nothing to work with, the answer is obvious. right?

  17. what i mean is how the heck am i supposed to hold a full out debate with a hook and thesis and forty different requirements on one thing? for once the internet is failing me.
    this is stupid; gay rights or making medical weed legal would have been so much easier, it would have actually been something i could work with.
    effing highschool.

  18. UNlike most of you ignorant space cadets here…Obama is smart enough to know pulling out of Iraq too soon would spell distaster for the soldiers and the iraqis. There is no considence that Iraqis gave us until 2011 to withdrawl. Thank God Obama isnt as stupid naive and just plain simple as all of you seem to be.

    Brandy…as someone thats actually been to Iraq….you should be as smart as our current president elect and make the arguement that its not time to pull the troops out just yet..but to wait until the iraqis are prepared to take over their own security.

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