The better question: Is Iraq really done with US?

The headline on a recent Daily Beast story was “Are we really done with Iraq?” I doubt it, even though Barack Obama is saying our involvement there will end in a few months. Interesting that Obama conveniently left out the fact that the U.S. is withdrawing its remaining forces reluctantly, after a breakdown in negotiations with the Iraqi government:

It was in the final months of George W. Bush’s presidency that the United States negotiated an agreement to withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

In his first year as commander in chief, Obama promised to adhere to the timeline, even though many US and Iraqi military leaders said some American forces should remain in the country. The US position on the 2011 date changed this year, however. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his predecessor, Robert Gates, said publicly that some US troops should remain in the country after the withdrawal. The conflict has claimed 4,200 American lives.

Proponents of remaining in Iraq argued that the smaller US footprint would be needed to train the Iraqi military on new American equipment – and as a trip wire if sectarian tensions flared up again and threatened to plunge the country into another civil war.

The negotiations over the 2011 deadline continued into this month, but eventually the talks broke down after the Iraqi side would not extend legal immunity to US soldiers and contractors in Iraq.

On Friday, Obama presented the loss at the negotiating table as a political victory. “As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” the president said. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

But the end of the war does not mean the end of the US presence in Iraq. Indeed, speaking after the president’s brief announcement, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough acknowledged that the United States would continue to train Iraq’s military in the new weaponry that Obama has agreed to sell the government that emerged after US troops toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Just this year, the Pentagon approved a sale of F-16s to Iraq’s air force.

Also remaining in Iraq will be military contractors who currently protect American diplomatic missions in Iraq, such as the US Embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Irbil.

This should be interesting, especially in light of the fact that influential rabble-rousing anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr isn’t at all happy that U.S. mercenaries will remain after the pullout of soldiers and Marines.

2 thoughts on “The better question: Is Iraq really done with US?

  1. Hillary Clinton. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. The contractors who remain in Iraq will be under the jurisdiction of Hillary. As will the embassy personnel and the Marines who will be guarding them. There are more US contractors in Afghanistan than there are US fighting men and women. Hillary controls those contractors as well. When Obama and Biden wanted out of Afghanistan 3 years ago it was Hillary who strong-armed them (using Gates and the military brass) into tripling the force. It was Hillary who pressured Obama into ‘invading’ Libya. Hillary is a warmonger who has obstructed Obama at every turn. On her recent secret visit to Libya she was heard to say “We came. We saw. He died,” referring to Gadhafi. This women is unfit to hold ANY public office because she is a danger to the American people.

  2. technically, they won’t be military contractors if they are working for the state department and not the defense department.

    it’s also worth noting that every single embassy and consulate in the world has security. but no one talks about “mercenaries” being deployed to every foreign country (nor do we consider the u.s. occupied by foreign mercenaries because embassies and consulates here have their own private security).

    the difference about iraq is not the fact that private security will remain guarding state department installations (that is completely normal), it’s the sheer volume of security personnel they will employ. as far as i can tell, that is unprecedented. but in any other country as violent as iraq, the u.s. diplomatic presence would scale down, families of diplomats would be sent home and the embassy would only have a skeleton staff of critical personnel. it seems like they are not going that route in iraq, largely because the DOS has so many development projects in process in the country and it doesn’t want to abandon them (as it would be required to do if it scaled down)

    just trying to add a little perspective to an issue that rarely has any.

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