Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Obama Takes Victory Lap on Iraq War

Foreign policy is vying with domestic policy as we come to the end of this year in politics and life. "The Protester" was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, mostly in reference to the Arab uprisings. How does President Obama stack up in the region?

Look at this banner made by protesting Syrians:

Ironic, right? Remember when President Bush was in office and his opponents were determined to move the thought forward that he was hated in the Arab world for his stance of pursuing the Freedom Agenda, also known as the Bush Doctrine? Bush believed that by encouraging people in oppressed nations to demand freedom and pursue a more democratic way of life, an entire region benefits. He began that with our national response to Afghanistan after the 9/11/01 attacks on our soil and then went on to Iraq and took out Saddam. Along the way, others in the region took notice and in Libya, Gadaffi stopped his pursuit of a nuclear program. He understood that George W. Bush was a decisive leader willing to make difficult decisions and move forward. No one claimed he dithered and then made politically expedient foreign policy decisions.

So, of the politically expedient foreign policy decisions made by President Obama, the use of the Iraq war as a political football has been particularly unseemly. Obama was proud of his anti-war stance as a U.S. Senator - though the war began while he was still an Illinois state senator - and he vowed to bring all the troops home from Iraq if he became President. What he didn't say was that he really had no voice in that action - the agreement had already been made by former President Bush and the Iraqi leader and the withdrawal date was already on paper. Nevertheless, President Obama is trying mightily for re-election and the Iraq war is a tool in his tool bag.

While President Obama was in the U.S. Senate, he and then Senator Hillary Clinton both found themselves running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. They both signed on to a hideous full page ad condemning General Petraeus, commander in Iraq, and used it for some political theatre during a Senate hearing. They labeled him "General Betrayus". Both came off the campaign trail and questioned the General without respect and clearly with political motivation. It was a disgraceful hearing and they should have both been ashamed. Both opposed the surge in Iraq which has clearly been a success. Both said horrible things against President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the administration. They are both still unrepenent.

Now, the war is declared over and President Obama is only too happy to enjoy the limelight. Orginally scheduled to be on his holiday vacation in Hawaii, some sort of last minute arrangements must have been made for him to accompany Vice President Biden to the ceremony. You would think the President would have planned to be there all along, as the Commander-in-Chief.

President Obama and Vice-President Biden attended a military ceremony in Maryland welcoming home U.S. troops from Iraq, as the end of the war is marked with their return.

Blending solemn tradition with joyous reunion, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq returned home to U.S. soil Tuesday, greeted by his wife and his president in an understated ceremony to mark the end of a nine-year conflict that has defined a generation.

President Barack Obama met Gen. Lloyd Austin and his top command staff with a smart salute at this military post in suburban Washington. Austin made his homecoming with his staff bearing the U.S. Forces-Iraq flag, the symbolic conclusion to the war.

Obama was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden. Though neither offered formal remarks, both greeted the troops and their families.

Those families, however, had to await the ritual return of the flag before embracing their loved ones. Under Army custom the flag will be retired and either stored or displayed.

Our returning troops deserve better than being used as pawns by politicians.

No comments: