Friday, October 21, 2011

Bugging Out: Obama Announces Total Withdrawal From Iraq

This isn't exactly an Appomattox Courthouse moment, but Pres. Obama's decision to withdraw from Iraq is a momentous one, if a bit anti-climactic 

President Barack Obama said Friday he was bringing all U.S. forces home from Iraq by the new year, ending a war that stretched nearly nine years, divided the country, transformed the military and left an enduring mark on American history.
The chief effect of Mr. Obama's announcement was to end any chance of a substantial U.S. troop presence in Iraq after the end of the year, a disappointment for U.S. defense officials. It was an acknowledgment that Iraqis had refused to agree to a key U.S. condition for leaving American troops behind: immunity from Iraqi law.

Ari Fleischer tweeted a reminder that the 12/31/11 pull-out date is actually a Bush-era policy. W even traveled to Baghdad and announced it at a big news conference with Prime Minister Malaki. Of course, people might not have gotten the news because this was the "shoe throwing" press conference, which just goes to show you what a big distraction so much of what is reported in the MSM can be. 

I am not going to join the right-wing chorus grousing about how we're leaving without "finishing the job." Come on, guys! It's been 9 years! If it's not finished now, it's never going to be finished. At some point these things have to end. This withdrawal would be a lot more credible if it were W or McCain announcing it, but don't be so sure they wouldn't have done the same thing. The Iraqis have had a functioning, western-style state handed to them on a silver platter. If they screw it up, that's not going to be on us. (granted I think we can all assume that, should the Iraqi government get into any serious trouble, it's going to be "Fall of Saigon" time should that trouble occur during a Democrat administration). 

Word on the street is that the Pentagon is unhappy with Obama's move. Well, speaking as someone who supported the Iraq invasion, and then had to defend my support virtually everyday I drew breath in the Bay Area, I gotta say the "Pentagon" let the troops and the home front down during the Casey-Abizaid years when our quick strike invasion gave way to a listless, yet deadly, occupation. There's plenty of blame to go around for the failures in Iraq, but the years between Liberation and The Surge were not the military's finest hours, even if the troops on the ground performed magnificently (and they did). 

Fairly or unfairly, there just didn't seem to be any among the generals who wanted to fight. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that the anti-war fifth column would treat Mesopotamian set-back as a new Tet, and every Sunni Stubbed toe as a new My Lai. And, it shouldn't have been a surprise that the public finally grew tired of three years of relentless headlines about the latest IED attack. (I was amazed the public stuck with it as long as it did). And, once W decided to promote Gen. Petraeus and commit to The Surge, was it a surprise that the same Pentagon bureaucracy that nearly lost the war, tried to keep us from winning it? America had a gold-plated defense budget, and gave the Pentagon all the tools it needed to win, but all those billions weren't enough, it seems. No wonder, even hawks are muttering the Gingrich formulation: "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk."

Having a hard leftist like Barack Obama decide to withdraw our troops from Iraq is problematic to say the least. But, there's no doubt that - after a lot of trial and error - we did find a way to win in Iraq, even if the president is too small a man to declare victory. And, we need to accept now that there is no freakin' way  the Colin Powells and John McCains of the world can pull out their satellite photos and declare that we need to invade this or that third world hellhole. That's not isolationism. It's just one of the problematic legacies of a war that took too long to end.  

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