Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leaving Iraq

I read an article this morning that debated whether now was the right time to draw down in Iraq, with the political situation still up in the air, violence on the uptick, and some Iraqis asking for us to stay. [source]

The failure thus far to form a government in Iraq is terrible. Every day I listen to complaints from my Iraqi counterparts about the politicians’ failure to come to an agreement. It has been 5 months since millions of Iraqis risked their lives and turned out to vote. In March I watched the election from a UAV feed- US forces did not roll into sector at all that day… there was so much Iraqi security that some elderly walked the long distances (vehicles were not allowed to move off of major highways) to get to the polling sites (too excited to wait for the buses and trucks that were arranged to give elderly a ride). Whole families, kids and all, walked to the poles, not dissuaded by the occasional explosion… Similar conditions in the US would result in zero turnout, but I digress.

All of that in exchange for almost half a year without political decision. The feeling here amongst my Iraqi partners is that none of their “leaders” will acquiesce and allow the other party a chance to form a government because they are all corrupt and their collective hands are stuck in the cookie jar. While the citizenry waits, the government is largely inactive. Today, Ramadan is here; a religious month of fasting during which nothing will get done.

The Iraqi Security Forces that I work with want us to stay. A buddy of mine sat in on a briefing between an Iraqi General and one of our Generals (neither of them at the top of the chain of command or in decision making positions) who asked for us to stay for another 10 years. Clearly that is not going to happen. Truthfully, from where I sit, the Iraqis are doing well enough on their own, asking for and receiving little if any help operationally from us. That being said, they still like having us around and are nervous about our departure. Violence is up, and I do think it will get worse before it gets better, the insurgents no doubt emboldened by our departure. If the government supports the Iraqi Security Forces (Army, Federal Police, and Iraqi Police) they will be fine, but the Ministry of Interior is failing miserably at that with regard to the FP and IP as we speak.

So though I agree with the article in the sense that President Obama has seemingly ignored Iraq, and believe that the bottom line is that we can’t afford to stay at war much longer, not with the crippling entitlement spending and economic policies that have been (and continue to be) put into place by this administration, and the last…

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