published Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

U.S. leaving Iraq in 70 days

President Obama's confirmation Friday that U.S. troops will withdraw entirely from Iraq by the end of the year is welcome, if only mildly surprising.

Former President Bush's departing "status of forces" agreement with Iraq's government in 2008 had set the Dec. 31 deadline for bringing U.S. troops home. It left room for a supplementary arrangement to keep a small force of Army trainers in Iraq subject to a mutual agreement. When Iraq refused to allow continued immunity from Iraqi law for a proposed smallish unit of 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. Army trainers, President Obama cut the cord. Though he left the door for further talks with Iraq's government, he announced his decision Friday.

"As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," he said. "After nearly nine years, America's war will be over."

To which we can only say, hallelujah. It's past time for their homecoming. This war should never have been waged.

Since the Pentagon's "shock and awe" campaign in March, 2003, to launch the invasion of Iraq, the United States has squandered a trillion dollars on the war, lost the lives of 4,400 brave U.S. troops and borne the often-grievous wounds to nearly 32,000 more.

Iraq has suffered much worse. Though harder to track, its casualties -- the dead and the wounded in war and in related sectarian violence in what resembled a civil war in 2006-07 -- is estimated at more than 1 million. That toll remains aggravated by the displacement of some 4 million Iraqis from their homes and towns due to the vicious sectarian strife between Shia, Sunnis and Kurds. Iraq's infrastructure, housing stock and built-environment, moreover, remains devastated.

Iraqis still wrestle with high levels of sectarian violence and crime, extraordinarily high unemployment, government corruption, and routine loss -- or outright lack -- of sewers, drinking water, electricity and cooking oil.

This immense and tragic destruction came as the result of an American war for which, it turned out, there was no credible justification. As critics uniformly claimed before the war, there were no weapons of mass destruction, no linkages to al-Qaida, no plots against America, no involvement in 9/11.

Beyond that, America now has precious little influence in Baghdad. The thin veneer of democracy is vanishing. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is influenced more by its radical Sadrist Muslims and by Iran and Teheran's mullahs, than by American envoys and Washington. And its multi-party government remains at loggerheads in distrust.

Perhaps the supreme irony of the moment is that just as Washington has confirmed the planned departure of all U.S. troops in 70 days, the news seems unimportant. The Arab world is focused instead on the demise of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi -- a Saddam-like brutal tyrant -- at the hands of his own people.

The juxtaposition of the two events begs the question: Might Saddam Hussein have been toppled by an Arab Spring uprising had George W. Bush quietly aided Iraq's beleaguered Shiite majority, its reform-minded secular Sunnis and the Iraqi exile community, rather than soliciting the now-documented fabrications of "Curveball" about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and the non-existent link to al Qaida to justify making war on Iraq.

In retrospect, it was clear all along that the Washington's neo-con clique that found its Iraq warrior in Dick Cheney fostered the fabrications and skewed intelligence to shift America's attention from Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, to Iraq. The neo-cons' weird hope was to erect an oil-ally in Iraq to replace Saudi Arabia, which was ousting its U.S. garrison to appease its Saudi extremists -- who, in fact, actually comprised 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks.

American forces can't leave Iraq fast enough. Iraq's main problem now -- the division between Sunnis and Shiites that was aggravated by the Bush administration's decision to strip all Sunnis of rank in the post-invasion era -- can only be addressed by Iraqis themselves. When American troops are gone, that will be Baghdad's challenge.

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EaTn said...

Romney and others are pointing fingers at Obama for not doing an orderly withdrawl. I thought an orderly withdrawl began when Bush landed on the aircraft carrier with the "mission accomplished" banner waving. Iraq will do what the Persians have done for centuries, with or without our help.

October 22, 2011 at 6:43 a.m.
headcoconut said...

EaTn, the black man in the white peoples' house will never receive credit for anything he's accomplished, nor will he receive any support from right wing conservatives AKA GOP republiKans to get the nation back on track economically. They want Obama to fail an fail so horribly that the world will turn on America's first black president.

October 22, 2011 at 8:48 a.m.
carlB said...

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for bringing the troops home from Iraq. It is the "right thing to do."

My concern is about the US Embassy and the personnel left to keep it open. Under the conditions existing in Iraq, the "green zone" and the Embassy are "sitting ducks" for the "insurgents" with all of our military gone. Under normal conditions it would be good to have Embassy personnel but we know there are people wanting to do the US harm. Until we see how stable the conditions will be, take all of the US personnel out of there and turn the Billion Dollar Embassy over to the Iraqi Government. Then we will not have to hear about any Americans getting killed when the Embassy is attacked.

October 22, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

It is good news indeed that we are at long last getting our sorry asses out of Iraq. The war was a debacle from the get-go, based on pernicious lies by Bush and his gang of neo-con hooligans.

It will be the epitome of hubris, however, to simply shake the dust from our boots and say, "Sorry, folks" as we load up and move out. Our military has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, maimed countless more than that, completely laid waste to their country, and displaced upwards of 4 million people from their homes. If we don't make restitution or pay reparations (and of course we won't, seeing as how we can't even afford to rebuild our own crumbling infrastructure), the very least we can do is to hold accountable the rogues and ruthless insitgators of the murder and mayhem that we inflicted: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the rest of the neo-con clique.

Rather than retiring in comfort to pen their memoirs and make speeches at 50 thousand or 100 thousand a pop, they need to be tried, convicted, and put behind bars for the war criminals they truly are.

October 22, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
rolando said...

There was no voluntary removal of our troops from Iraq by The Obama or any other American.

The Iraqi government refused to allow us to remain and essentially gave us until the end of the year to get out of Dodge.

The rest is pure, unmitigated election-year campaigning. Anything to change our focus from Solyandra and the Fast And Furious federal gunrunning with the subsequent loss of American and Mexican lives.

October 23, 2011 at 2:07 a.m.
rolando said...

Headcoco -- The Obama is not a black man -- he is a mulatto.

You want to name a true black candidate, name Herman Cain.

October 23, 2011 at 2:08 a.m.
limric said...

I'll believe it when I see it.

October 23, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.
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