Barack Obama captured the soul of the Democratic Party when he denounced the American invasion of Iraq as a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter, based on faulty and manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. His election to the presidency proved that the voters trusted him to end the war as he promised.
While Americans are grateful that this six year old war will soon be over, they wonder at the delay in pulling our troops from Iraq. More than 4000 Americans have been killed; more than 30,000 have been wounded in this war generally regarded as a mistake. Our military leaders say that we should leave “responsibly.” What does that mean? Responsible to whom? To the Iraqis, whose public wants us to leave at once? To the corrupt Iraqi government whose leaders want us to stay as long as we supply the dollars?
Our first responsibility is to the men and women of the U. S. military. No more deaths. No more wounds. How would you like to be the last soldier to die for a mistake?
Obama promised a pullout within 16 months. Now, his senior officials tell the New York Times that will be extended to 19 months. How many Americans will be killed or wounded in those three months? Why? To protect the military equipment? Leave it there for the Iraqis. When we invaded, our operation against a shooting enemy took one month. Getting out should take the same one month.
If we are serious
President Obama plans to leave behind a “residual force” to continue training Iraqis, to hunt down foreign terrorist cells, to guard the American Embassy and other American installations. That doesn’t sound like much of a withdrawal. The residual tasks are what we have been doing for six years. Right now, there are about 142,000 American military in Iraq and a like number of civilian contractors working for us. The duties of the residual force indicate that at least 100,000 Americans would remain in Iraq in addition to a sizeable number of contractors to help them. Not the pullout we expected. And if the fragile truce between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds disintegrates, U.S. forces are likely to stay in Iraq.
The U.S. now has more than 700 military bases in 130 countries. The Middle East contains 60% of the oil on earth. The U.S. has commercial, political, financial and cultural interests in every country in the area, some of the interests valued in the trillions of dollars. Will Iraq become the 131st country? Will the residual force become the U.S. military base? Removing all U.S. troops from Iraq – NOW – may reverse our reliance on military power, restore our international reputation and encourage the use of “soft power” in pursuit of American interests.
This post originally appeared on Relentless Liberal on February 26, 2009.