“This wasn’t a Republican invasion of Iraq, this was an American invasion”
-Richard Wolfe, Newsweek
The splitting headache of being president of the United States is that you inherit with no ambiguity the failures of your predecessor. With President Obama, the failures of his predecessor are numerous and obvious. None, however, weighs more heavily on the conscience of the nation than the destruction of a (dangerous) sovereign nation. In March of 2003, President Bush ordered the United States Army to lead a coalition of world forces to topple the government of Saddam Hussein, ostensibly to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people like those who destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City, New York on September 11, 2001.
Candidate Obama on the campaign trail pledged to remove the United States from Iraq in sixteen months, if he were to be elected President. He argued before the invasion (in 2002) that it was a needless waste of American lives and resources, that it removed the focus from retaliation and revenge on al Qaeda (who perpetrated the attacks), and that it was a “dumb war.” Unfortunately for him, the realities of our involvement are mounting against the audacity of his original stance, and the tempered pledge of his latter.
He has now announced that the US is leaving Iraq . . . sort of. In nineteen months, in August of 2010, all combat troops will be removed from Iraq. Mind you, two combat brigades renamed advisors (I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam”) and up to 50,000 troops will remain. This sounds eerily similar to Candidate McCain’s claim that the United States might remain in Iraq, “up to 100 years.” Speaking of Senator McCain, he is now supporting the President’s plan to withdraw and redirect combat troops, while the President’s own party is attacking his withdrawal because he’s leaving troops there. While I’m for holding the executive branch accountable and checking its power, the Dems are beginning to feed on themselves again.
Neither of the extremes on Iraq, 1) we were wrong to go in, so lets get out now, nor 2) we liberated Iraq, and it is a “good war” are correct. What is true is that we are in a hell of a mess, and the blathering response is not helpful to the President, engaging for the troops, or emblematic of the moral and intellectual leadership that we as a nation have enjoyed in the past.
We have a moral obligation to LEAVE IRAQ in a way that leaves A FUNCTIONING IRAQI GOVERNMENT. And the “you didn’t do what you said you would” finger in the face whining that both parties are doing is singularly ridiculous in the face of the coffins we’re now allowed to see, the sacrifice our soldiers have been ordered to make, and the gaping holes in our national character we must begin to mend.
The President is doing a very good job cleaning up the messes he inherited. It’s simply going to take some time.
Today, I can announce that our review is complete, and that the United States will pursue a new strategy to end the war in Iraq through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility.