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In the president’s case, those domestic political concerns were centered on an angry left-wing base, which has demonstrated a mixed reaction to the news of American withdrawal from Iraq. In a column appearing in The Nation, radical leftist Tom Hayden celebrated the retreat, claiming: “the US pullout will allow President Obama to keep an important promise, and the Iraqi government to defend its sovereign power.” Just how it is going to do that, Hayden neglects to inform us. Every one of Iraq’s neighbors have a far stronger, more organized, and better equipped military.
Hayden also couldn’t resist a parting shot at the military:
But if the withdrawal is completed on schedule, there could be a ceremony in Baghdad far different from the one once envisioned by President Bush when he announced that the mission was accomplished. Who knows—the American forces may even get the red carpet treatment as they leave for home.
Leftist Spencer Ackerman criticized the fact that there will be approximately 5,500 State Department and military security contractors left in Iraq after the pullout. Predictably, Ackerman believes that the contractors should not protect themselves. After several high profile incidents where contractors were attacked and Iraqi civilians were caught in the crossfire, Ackerman writes, “Whether the Iraqi people will have protection from the contractors that the State Department commands is a different question. And whatever you call their operations, the Obama administration hopes that you won’t be so rude as to call it ‘war.’”
Meanwhile, GOP candidates for president expressed universal opposition to the Obama administration’s pullout. “We’ve lost the battle in Iraq with the Iraqi government,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said on “Face the Nation.” “We’ve lost this sphere of influence that we had,” he added.
Rep. Michele Bachmann was outraged at Iraqi’s lack of gratitude. “We are there as the nation that liberated these people,” she said. “And that’s the thanks that the United States is getting? After 4,400 lives were expended and over $800 billion? And so on the way out, we are being kicked out of the country? I think this is absolutely outrageous.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney questions whether the decision was driven purely by politics and added, “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.”
The bottom line is if there had been a will, then a way could have been found to keep a strong force in Iraq to deter Iran, police the border that Turkey has recently been violating with impunity in order to get at Kurds who are carrying out terrorist attacks, and be on hand in case sectarian tensions flare again.
But the president chose political expediency over American security interests. It may prove to be a popular decision with many voters who had long ago tired of our commitment to Iraqi security. But what it will mean to the Iraqi people and the elements in Iraqi society who wish to live independently of the Iranian theocracy, will be an entirely different matter.
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