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Saturday, October 22, 2011

American Troops to Leave Iraq by Year's End

Friday, after a teleconference call with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, President Obama announced the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq by year's end.

President Obama: "In the next two months our troops will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home"

Some politicians and those hoping to be the next President jumped ugly on this announcement. It is nothing new, though, in the calendar of events. This agreement was made by former President George W. Bush and don't remember a whole lot of jumping on him when the agreement was hammered out back then.

A bit of a glitch occurred as the Iraqi leaders requested up to 5,000 troops to remain in Iraq to continue training but would not allow immunity from prosecution should incidents occur. The concern was particularly with Iraqi deaths at the hands of American soldiers. Defense Secretary Panetta unequivocally stated that this is unacceptable. The complete withdrawal indicates the Iraqi leadership was unwilling to allow the protection to soldiers.

Some reactions from Republicans:

"I feel all we have worked for, fought for, and sacrificed for is very much in jeopardy by today’s announcement. I hope I am wrong and the President is right, but I fear this decision has set in motion events that will come back to haunt our country," said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the most vocal proponents of the war, in a statement.

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women," Romney said in a statement. "The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government."

"Today's announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen," Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a statement. She said the U.s. should have demanded repayment for its cost of liberating Iraq, and demanded that Obama "return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world."

California Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, criticized the decision in the same vein as most other Republicans.

"I remain concerned that this full withdrawal of US forces will make that road tougher than it needs to be. Multiple experts have testified before my committee that the Iraqis still lack important capacities in their ability to maintain their internal stability and territorial integrity," he said. "These shortcomings could reverse the decade of hard work and sacrifice both countries have endured to build a free Iraq."

While we all are deeply concerned of what the next step for Iraq will be, whether it can truly protect itself from the continued obstruction from Iran, it is not wise for Republicans to be playing politics with the decision to carry on, to honor an agreement made in 2008 with the Iraqi people.

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