Uninsured in Iraq
Amid the holiday rush, a simple ceremony last week presided over by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta marked the official conclusion of America's military involvement in Iraq. Notably absent from the event were Prime Minister Maliki and President Talibani. President Obama's decision to pull nearly all of our forces out of Iraq leaves the country and our investment there - paid for with blood and treasure - without an insurance policy against secratian forces influencing the government. Al-Qaeda, Iran, radical Shiite and Sunni factions are all now free to try and push forth damaging agendas without the the American military within striking distance. The Iraqi people deserve better. Our troops who sacrificed to create the conditions for a free Iraq and all those brave Iraqis who served and struggled along side them deserve better. They deserve better than being thrown to the wolves by a President desperate to make good on a campaign promise to end the war in advance of his reelection campaign.
Obama could have pushed harder for a new SOFA. He could have decided to slow the withdrawral - or better yet, leave the same number of troops behind in permanent bases that we did after German and Japanese reconstruction. Those troops would have served as an insurance policy against Iranian influence, and the emergence of bitter infighting among the Shiites looking to consolodate power, and the Sunni and Kurdish minorities now with their backs up against the wall. In the face of a real decision - Obama did what the radicals and the Iranian influencers hoped he would do. Leave the Iraqis flat.
After all, this is the President who called Iraq a failure as a Senator and called for complete retreat by the end of 2007.
Obama's decision to close the door on Iraq means he has also closed the door on our influence there. Maliki's recent refusal to vote to reprimand Syria and the Iraqi government's arrest of a prominent Sunni leader just hours after meeting with Obama at the White House demonstrates just how far we've come from the Bush days. Today, not only has the President neutered his own influence in Iraq for domestic political gain, he's being used as a tool of the Shiite majority to justify the sudden squeeze on Sunni leadership. All along the Sadrists and the foreign terrorist forces are maneuvering to cause instability that has already resulted in dozens of deaths. Thanks to Obama, if there's a fire in the building, there will be no alarms, no sprinkler system, no firehouse standing by - and we may all be forced to watch what we've built burn to the ground.
It is another failure of policy from a rudderless administration, a slap in the face to courageous Iraqis and a sign of contempt for our brave men and women in uniform who fought to see a lasting success in Iraq.