Out of Iraq

Raven Brooks is asking why there isn’t more hoopla and celebration on progressive blogs about the announcement that all US combat troops are out of Iraq.

I’ve been writing in opposition to the Iraq War for coming on six years (I started blogging in late 2004). When I went to work for Chris Dodd on his presidential campaign, it was spring 2007. A supplemental war funding vote was coming up and Dodd was introducing a resolution to have all US combat troops out of Iraq by March 2008. Dodd was to the left of the entire caucus, save Russ Feingold, and the more consensus liberal Democratic position in the Senate was to have all troops out by the end of 2008. At that time, with the insurgency in full swing and a burgeoning civil war taking place between Sunni and Shia, nine months meant a lot. Of course Dodd’s provision was defeated and Congress was never able to put funding on the war continuing conditional on an exit plan.

That happened three years ago. And the fairly moderate position would have had US troops out of Iraq almost two years ago.  In the interim, while things in Iraq are better than 2007, there is still strife, violence and discord. Yes, President Obama kept his campaign pledge to withdraw combat troops by the end of this year. But as time as past, Afghanistan, our forgotten war during the days of fighting in Iraq, has become a total disaster. The President has escalated the war in Afghanistan and our commitment there has only grown deeper, despite it being almost nine full years old.

What’s worse, as has always been said to be the case by DFHs online, combat troops is something of a euphemism. We still have over 50,000 American troops in Iraq. There are tens of thousands of “contractors” doing the jobs that US troops ostensibly should be doing, like protecting US diplomats and civilian officials. It’s hard to imagine a world wherein the exit of combat troops from Iraq means no more American troops will die in Iraq, nor will American troops no longer be reasonable for killing Iraqi civilians.  In short, today will likely look just like yesterday for over 50,000 American troops and millions of Iraqis.

Am I glad that the administration has brought many US troops out of Iraq? Yes, absolutely. But I guess I still don’t know, after more than seven  years, why we went to Iraq and what our presence accomplished for the people of Iraq, besides toppling a tin cup dictator. I don’t know what President Obama will say to the parents of the next US soldier, airman, or marine who is killed in Baghdad. And I don’t know that how this war ending is indicative of a larger vision for foreign policy and military policy from the Obama administration, specifically vis a vis Afghanistan. Pulling troops out of Iraq now was the right thing to do and it is reassuring to see the administration do the right thing. But this is something that I really wish had happened years ago.

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