NR: "None of this is hardly a declaration of bold resolve."

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TJ Holmes talks to Michael as well as Joe Klein from Time Magazine about the president's plans for removing the troops from Iraq.

TJ HOLMES: Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. That's where he has been for a good part of the several past hours, making an announcement about troop levels in Iraq.

They will be reduced and reduced drastically. Combat forces will be out, according to President Obama, out of Iraq by August 31 of 2010. That is next year, just about 18 or 19 months from when he took office.

He was promising it would happen within 16 months of him taking office. However, he's just missing that mark by a couple of months, but a lot of people will certainly think right now he is keeping one of his major campaign promises, one of the promises that certainly highlighted him and really skyrocketed him certainly during the Democratic primary race against Hillary Clinton.

Let's bring in a couple of folks who know a whole lot about this. We're going to be talking to Joe Klein with "TIME" magazine, also Michael Ware. There they are.

But before I get to you gentlemen, let's listen in now to the what the president said at Camp Lejeune.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end. As we...


OBAMA: As we carry out this drawdown, my highest priority will be the safety and security of our troops and civilians in Iraq. So we will proceed carefully, and I will consult closely with my military commanders on the ground and with the Iraqi government.

There will surely be difficult periods and tactical adjustments, but our enemies should be left with no doubt: This plan gives our military the forces and flexibility they need to support our Iraqi partners and to succeed.


HOLMES: All right.

Michael Ware, I will start with you. You know Iraq, and you know it well. Listening to this plan, is it possible, plausible and prudent?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, it could definitely happen.

Obviously, everything depends upon the situation on the ground in Iraq and what the president's commanders of the war are telling him. So, the plan is that the timetable has been outlined. But the actual withdrawal in essence doesn't begin until next year.

There's two brigades of troops coming home this year, as planned. The rest are being kept there until after the Iraqi parliamentary elections. So, it's going to be a matter of what's happening next year, particularly in the lead-up to all this.

But, on the whole, none of this is hardly a declaration of bold resolve. The Bush administration that started the war, had already negotiated the end of the war in the Status of Forces Agreement that came into effect on the 1st of January. That gave American troops 36 months to get out of Iraq.

President Obama has chosen that he will only need 19 months to get the bulk of them out, and the remainder, the residual 35,000 to 50,000, will be out by the date set by the Bush administration.

HOLMES: Well, Joe, on his point right there, Joe, like he said, not necessarily bold resolve, but will this be viewed by the American public as a bold move by this president and this president keeping a campaign promise?

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, yes, it will probably be viewed that way. But Mick is right about the deal and the inevitability of the deal after the Status of Forces Agreement. One other thing that I would emphasize here is it is, as Mick said, a very back-loaded deal. You're only going to have two brigades fewer in Iraq by the end of the year.

And those two are going to be moved to Afghanistan. And so, a year from now, we're going to have as many American troops, if not more American troops, downrange in Afghanistan and Iraq total that we have now. So, the military is still facing a very stressed situation.

HOLMES: Still going to be stressed.

But, Michael, on that, we know President Bush was adamant about making sure he never set a timeline, never going to let the enemy know when we're going to pull our troops out. They would just lie in waiting, until troops left, and then they would move in and attack. Is that still possible? Or are we dealing with a different Iraq now?

WARE: Well, we are dealing with a different Iraq post-surge, post-deal with the Sunni insurgency, the accommodation with rebel anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

But the Bush administration did in fact, at the end, in one of the last gasps of their time in office, set out precisely that, a timetable. The Bush administration signed a deal with the Iraqis to say, we will be out by the end of 2011, no discussions, no negotiation. That's it.

And the Iraqis insisted upon that. So, already, President Obama had that, in many ways, the heavy lifting, done for him. And the other thing to remember is, come June, July 2009, if Iraq is falling apart, heaven forbid, it will be a daring President Obama who pulls the troops out then, because he will be then seen as the president who oversaw the defeat of the war in Iraq or the loss of what successes had been made.

HOLMES: Yes. And it might come as a surprise right now to folks where the support and where some of the grumblings are coming from in this particular plan, Joe.

We're going to listen to, of all people, a supporter right now. Might be surprised whose face pops up on the screen to some of the viewers. Stay with me here and we will talk about it after this sound bite, Joe.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The American people should be clear. The president's plan, even after the end of its withdrawal timeline is reached, will leave in place up to 50,000 U.S. troops. All will be in harm's way.

Some will continue to conduct combat operations. They will play a vital role in consolidating and extending the remarkable progress our military has made since early 2007. That's why I believe that the administration should aim to keep the full complement, 50,000, as briefed by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, and not succumb to pressures, political or otherwise, to make deeper or faster cuts in our force levels.


HOLMES: And, Joe, we know who that is, the opponent in the election.


HOLMES: He actually said he's cautiously optimistic about the plan, but said he thinks it can lead to success there.

What do you get there? Go ahead.

KLEIN: And he was hedging a little bit there at the end about the 50,000.

You know, he -- John McCain was someone who campaigned on the need for American troops in Iraq in perpetuity. He's gotten some religion in part because he's now far more aware of how terrible the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is. He gave a big speech about Afghanistan this week.

But, essentially, you know, this deal was -- you know, was cooked about six or eight months ago. And, you know, and McCain knew it then, even when he was attacking Obama about it during the campaign.

What we have to look at -- there are a couple of areas in Iraq that are still of concern. The most important thing of these elections, if you get the same kind of results nationally as they just got locally, that means that it will be a strong national Iraqi state supported by a parliament.

But a lot can change between now and next December. The other thing is that there's still a lot of tension in the northern part of the country between Arabs and Kurds, and that could blow up at any time.

HOLMES: All right. Joe Klein, again, with "TIME" magazine, Michael Ware, longtime correspondent, knows all about that war and Iraq, but today with us from New York. Gentlemen, always good to see you. Appreciate you both.