Tag Archives | troop withdrawal

McCain Says: Let’s Jam US Troops Down Iraq’s Throat

In an interview with Christine Amanpour on ABC this morning, John McCain claimed that the Obama Administration didn’t really try to convince Iraq to keep a wresidual force (3,000 – 20,000) of American troops in Iraq past the legal deadline for withdrawal agreed to by the Bush Administration, December 31, 2011.  Upon questioning how he could make such a claim, McCain said “I was there.”  McCain then explained that  over six months before, when he spoke to different representatives of the Iraqi government, they seemed agreeable to discussing amending the SOFA and retaining some American troops.

Let’s look at the facts:

It has been broadly reported that some in the Iraqi government wanted to keep US troops past the deadline for withdrawal.  Others did not.

It has been broadly reported that the Administration entered talks on the subject months ag, with Maliki and the US Administration trying to work out some type of accommodation.

It has been broadly reported that the Iraqi government would not give American troops immunity past December 31, 2011, because it would violate their nation’s sovereignty and that the US could not accept leaving troops beyond the agreed-upon withdrawal date without this immunity

It has been widely reported that the Bush Administration invaded Iraq to ‘liberate it’ with the goal of leaving it a sovereign, independent nation and that Mr. McCain approved of and supported that invasion from the beginning.

The Iraqi government has spoken as a sovereign, independent nation.  Yet, instead of celebrating that fact, Mr. McCain believes the Obama Administration should impose US paternalism and dictate the number of troops and conditions of operations to the Iraqis.

Mr. McCain is not a very smart politician.  He knows that the US Embassy will have hundreds of contracted former soldiers defending it and its consulates in Iraq.  He knows the State Department will hire independent contractors to fill in for American soldiers to train the Iraqi military.  He knows the American people have no more stomach for the cost in lives and money of a continued war in Iraq.

A smart politician would have tried to take credit for the Bush strategy and insisted it worked.  Instead McCain’s attacks on Obama for implementing the Bush SOFA and fulfilling a campaign pledge to bring the troops home seems shallow and outdated.

McCain ignores the internal politics in Iraq itself.  He ignores the nationalist sentiment of Iraqis that has grown stronger the longer US troops have remained on the ground.  Most Iraqis consider the US presence in Iraq an occupation and believe that sectarian divisions will moderate when the occupation ends.  McCain ignores the Sadr movement, which vowed to challenge any remaining US troops militarily, that hold a sizable bloc of votes in the Iraqi Parliament.

By denouncing Obama for the Iraqi withdrawal, McCain displays his tin ear to the war fatigue of the American public and demands that the government focus on domestic concerns, not foreign policy adventures.

McCain is a figure of the past.  He no longer represents the base of the Republican Party.  But the American media is lazy and intellectually unable to keep up with foreign policy developments.  It’s easier to go with the false perceptions of the same old same old .






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Republicans Want to Re-Invade Iraq!

That’s the logical conclusion to be drawn from Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham as reported on Fox News Sunday.  Mr. Romney issued a statement saying the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by the end of the year ‘threatens’ all the ‘gains’ the US has made in Iraq.   He invoked the thousands of American soldiers killed or injured as if to say it would all be for naught because Iraq can’t stand on its own.    In an interview with Chris Wallace, Senator Graham asserted that bringing home US troops is one of Obama’s ‘strategically dangerous’ decisions  Once again, Republican hawks point out that the commanders on the ground want to keep 20-40,000 troops in Iraq.  They raise the need for US troops to counter the influence of Iran.

So, what’s the reality?

1.  The troops are being brought home under the Bush-negotiated Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed with the Maliki government several years ago.  SOFA stipulated the conditions under which US troops operated and how long they stay.  Part of the SOFA agreement is that all US troops leave Iraq by December 31, 2011.

2.   PM Maliki’s government and the Obama Administration have been in talks about amending SOFA to keep some American troops in Iraq longer, primarily for training and advising the Iraqi military.  However, the Iraqis refused to extend immunity to any American soldiers who stayed behind.  That was a deal-breaker from the beginning.

3.   Romney and Graham may have forgotten that Iraq is once again an independent, sovereign nation.  Maliki is representing the majority of Iraqis who want all foreign troops out of their country.  Both countries have left open the possibility of American military trainers coming back at a later date. In the meantime, the US Embassy will employ contractors to train Iraqis.

4.     Romney and Graham’s concern about leaving troops in Iraq to counter the influence of Iran, especially in the southern region is laughable.  So far, since the invasion, the US military has been spectacularly unsuccessful in countering Iranian influence in Iraq militarily or diplomatically.  In the not-to-distant-past, in fact, the US aligned itself with Saddam Hussein as a bulwark against Iran rising as a dominant power in the area. Americans taking out Iran’s nemesis, Hussein, was the best thing that could happen for Iran.

4.   The hawkish Republican stance to keep US troops in Iraq could only be fulfilled if the US overrides the SOFA by force by staging an open US-supported coup against the Maliki government and/or re-invading the country.

See how that goes over in 2012.


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