Obama Plays Politics with Iraq, Hands Iran a Victory
Word came over the weekend from the White House that the United States mission in Iraq would end just in time for the holidays this year. One must wonder, how hard the Administration really negotiated for a new Status of Forces Agreement. How forceful did the President argue for a continued troop presence? Remember, this was the same Barack Obama who advocated pulling all of our troops out by the end of 2007.
I believe the White House knows the risk it is taking by consenting to depart leaving only several hundred Marines behind to guard our sprawling Baghdad embassy compound. I believe that the Pentagon, NSC, CIA and other intelligence services know just how precarious a situation we leave behind. I know that they know because it was obvious to me when I was in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004.
Even in those early days of the conflict, internal and external elements were prepared to sit and wait for the resolve of the American President to wear thin. That moment has come. One of the first and loudest voices out of Iraq once the pull-out was announced was our old nemesis radical Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who reaffirmed his long-held belief that the people of Iraq have been oppressed by the US. Next to Prime Minister Maliki, Sadr, who the Bush administration refused to eliminate from the scene, was the most quoted Iraqi figure in the media coverage about the withdrawal. He is just one element close to the Iranian regime that stands to benefit from our complete departure. We've known for years that Iran has played a central role in fueling unrest in Iraq. Sadr, al-Qaida and other foreign agents responsible for the deaths of countless American service members and even more Iraqi civilians have received support from Iran. Sadr was also the loudest voice against any American presence remaining in Iraq, undoubtedly carrying Iran's water in the Iraqi parliament.
Today, those elements have been empowered by a President that is struggling to make good on a single campaign promise after three years of failed economic policy and a shaky left wing that has grown tired of empty rhetoric. Obama needed to do something to placate the anti-war left. His base is crumbling. GITMO is still open. The war in Afghanistan is still raging. Ending Iraq would check the box for the left wing he needs to be viable in 2012. And so it comes to a close. Sadr cheers, Ahmedinejad snickers and our President removes the greatest deterrent between Iran and Israel from the region.
Thousands of brave Americans have given their lives to free the 27 million people of Iraq and kill thousands of terrorists and extremists. Thousands more have sacrificed through countless acts of courage. Now, with the 2012 campaign seeing the President fighting for his political life, the mission will end with Iraq's future uncertain and no backstop in the event of more violence. All Americans should hope and pray for continued progress. Should Iraq fall back into chaos, or drift toward theocracy, however, surely the President will be true to form and blame someone else. Sorry Prime Minister Maliki.