Any question about the issue has been cleared up by General Raymond Odierno, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq: the Pentagon’s troops could be in that nation for long after 2011.

That confirmed the opinions of commentators and analysts who say that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is a relative fact, because that country continues to be occupied, despite Washington’s attempts to make it seem as though it were the opposite case. It is true that the 4th Stryker Brigade, comprising 4,000 combat troops, left Iraq on August 19, in a move that more than a few saw as symbolic of the end of military operations there and the army’s shift to a diplomatic role.

Instead, however, the Pentagon left 52,000 soldiers in Iraq – 2,000 are expected to leave on August 31 — and the U.S. Department of State announced a 50-percent jump in contractors for security work, up to 7,000 troops.

Of course, the White House has asserted that the forces it will keep in the Arab nation will carry out missions of advisement and training for Iraqi forces in what they have dubbed Operation New Dawn.

However, Gen. Odierno made it clear: 2011 will not be the year of total withdrawal; troops may remain.

Moreover, a condition was set: U.S. combat forces will only return to Iraq if the Iraqis "completely fail," the high-ranking U.S. military officer said on the Sunday news programs "Face the Nation" and "State of the Union," on CBS and CNN television.

What would be considered as the total failure of Iraqi forces? Would that create an opportunity for the White House to give the order to invade whenever it considers it convenient?

The Iraqi people are "growing," Odierno said. "We continue to see development in their planning, their ability to conduct operations. We continue to see political development, economic development, and all of these combined together will start to develop an atmosphere that means better security."

However, violence is taking lives every day in Iraq. Less than a week ago, a suicide bomber tied an explosives belt to his waist and blew himself up at an army recruitment center.

The outcome of the tragic incident was more than 100 victims, 48 of them killed.

In his remarks on the situation, President Obama wants to remind the people of the United States that he is keeping a campaign promise by ordering the end of combat missions in Iraq and bringing thousands of troops home.

Of course, thousands more remain in Iraq, with its mined lands and well-protected oil.