Wow. You’d think it was the Obama Administration that invaded Iraq the way opponents of US troop withdrawal tell it. Republicans and some foreign policy pundits are wringing their hands over the withdrawal schedule negotiated by George Bush in 2008. Incredibly, instead of cheering a decision made by an independent Iraqi government not to give immunity to US troops if some stayed behind, conservatives are once again dragging out their bankrupt ‘slippery slope’ argument to cover their butts. Saying President Obama had ‘failed’ to renegotiate the Status of Forces Agreement in which President Bush pledged that every US troop would be withdrawn by December 31, 2011, Republicans are setting President Obama up to blame for anything bad that happens in Iraq after US troops withdraw and into the future. Mitt Romney goes so far as to say that US troop withdrawal threatens all the ‘gains we’ve made’ since 2003. Lindsey Graham said the announcement of troop withdrawal is a victory for Iran!
Bad things could happen. But those same bad things would be possible whether the US withdraws now or in five years. Maybe, on the other hand, good things will happen as Iraqis are free of the tension and humiliation of occupation and regain their shared heritage. Or perhaps the withdrawal will prevent bad things from happening. After all, the Sadrists pledged to call up their militia again to fight any US troops left behind after this December.
Paternalism is thick in the conservative argument. The people who got us into this war thought it would go a certain way, sort of a ‘cakewalk’ was the expression. It didn’t. And now they want the American people to trust them again?
I’d love to see Romney go after Obama face-to-face on withdrawal from Iraq in one the pre-election debates. Running on keeping troops in Iraq is not a winning strategy.
In Iraq, however, many associate the U.S. presence with instability, violence and suspect motives in a conflict that is believed to have cost at least 100,000 Iraqi lives. These critics view U.S. troops as a lightning rod for militia attacks.
A representative of Prime Minister ‘s Shiite-led ruling coalition said Iraqis were “thankful” for the role of the U.S. and other nations in ousting Hussein, but another official added that the Americans “put the country on the brink of civil war.”
“They were part of the reason behind the ethnic and sectarian tension,” said Saad Muttalbi.
The Shiites have long been cool to U.S. troops in Iraq. But leading politicians from Sunni and Kurdish blocs who once welcomed the American presence now also agree that the U.S. must leave.
The largely Sunni Iraqiya bloc headed by Iyad Allawi has gone on record against extending the stay of U.S. troops beyond the end of the year.Even lawmakers from Iraqi Kurdistan, where U.S. forces were warmly received in 2003, no longer seem enthusiastic about American boots on the ground.
“An American presence is not a condition to solve our problems,” said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Kurdish coalition. “They’ve been here for years, and there are still problems in Iraq.”