During Barack Obama’s presidential campaign; he vowed to have all of our troops in Iraq home within 16 months of his taking office. He has since amended that to 18 months as a concession to his own military commanders. I can live with that. He originally proclaimed that he would begin withdrawing one brigade a month; the equivalent of 3,000 to 5,000 troops. He has amended that as well by deciding to wait until the spring of 2010 before he begins the aggressive withdrawal approach. I am having a little difficulty with that one.
If history has shown us anything in regard to war; the advice of the commanders in the field should be given the most attention. However, in the case of Iraq, these opinions are based on the fact that these commanders do not feel that the Iraqi Security Forces will be up to the task. My response to that: I don’t care! Does anyone honestly believe that our continued presence is going to miraculously change how the Shiites and the Sunnis feel about each other? That is what it all comes down to. The Sunni extremists are supported by al Qaeda and have chosen the town of Mosul as their base from which they launch their offensives. Of course, their offensives are limited to roadside bombs, suicide bombers, and the occasional drive-by shooting.
The violence is not restricted to Mosul as the suicide bombing in Baghdad on Sunday will attest to. A further reminder of the danger our troops face every day. To date, 4,238 Americans have lost their lives-far too many for a war that was started based on either shoddy intelligence or blatant propaganda. Unless I’ve missed something; we still haven’t found those pesky little WMDs that were the foundation for our invasion. We now justify our presence as being the “preventers” of escalated violence between the two factions.
I recall a reporter stating that our withdrawal would open the door to a civil war. What an astute observation. What in the world did he think was taking place for the centuries preceding our intervention? Whether we leave in 18 months or 18 years; nothing is going to change. Putting our young men and women in harm’s way in order to prolong an inevitable conclusion is just wrong. We need to adjust our focus to our troops as opposed to worrying about the future of the Iraqis. If that sounds selfish then so be it. Attempting to broker peace anywhere in the Middle East is akin to trying to take down a redwood with a keyhole saw. It’s just not going to happen. Lt. Col. Tom Cippolla summarized it best by saying, “I think we understand now that it is a fight that doesn’t stop. It’s part of the environment here that will have to be dealt with for a very long time.” Not by us I hope.
I am aware that President Obama is in a difficult spot between appeasing the Democrats who are calling for a quicker aggressive withdrawal, and heeding the advice of his military commanders. Regardless of which path he chooses, he is going to make some enemies. Therein lays the Catch-22. Cippolla believes that the Iraqis will request us to stay longer than the designated deadline and that is what concerns me the most. Prime Minister Maliki assures us that his forces will have the capabilities to manage the situation but they will need additional weapons. Of course they will!
My hope is that President Obama fulfills his promise to the American people and brings our troops home. We are tired of broken promises. He simply cannot cave in to the wishes of our commanders or the Iraqis to continue our presence there. It is bad enough that he plans to leave 50,000 troops there for an additional year as non-combative (doubtful) supporters. Detracting any further from his original withdrawal plan is unacceptable.
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