‘The War Is Over’: But Are We Really Done with Iraq?

October 24th, 2011 - by admin

The White House & Hon. Barbara Lee & ThinkProgress & The Daily Beast – 2011-10-24 01:02:14

President Obama on Ending War in Iraq

The White House declared: “President Obama announced that by the year’s end, our servicemen and women currently in Iraq will all be home, and the Iraq war will end. This is a historic moment that so many have been working toward for years.” But military trainers and contractors will be left behind as part of a withdrawal that had been set for years.

The War in Iraq Is Over
Hon. Barbara Lee, US House of Representatives

Our US military forces in Iraq will be home for the holidays. We applaud President Obama for holding to our nation’s agreement with the government of Iraq to bring our troops home by the end of this calendar year and for ending this costly and unnecessary war.

This move will save billions of dollars, improve our reputation around the world, and it is the right thing to do. It also fulfills the object of legislation I introduced, The Iraq Withdrawal Accountability Act of 2011 (H.R. 2757), which would prohibit funding for any extension of the December 31, 2011 deadline, and fulfills the request I, along with 92 members of Congress, made in our letter to the President back in July.

Let us celebrate this overdue and great victory for the progressive movement who have worked to first prevent and then end this unnecessary and unjustified war. And let us work to ensure our veterans receive everything they have earned.

Barbara Lee, Member of Congress
449 15th Street, 4th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612

Iraq by the Numbers
Eli Clifton, ThinkProgress

The World’s Costliest Cakewalk

(October 22, 2011) — The Obama administration’s announcement of a withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq by the end of the year offers the possibility of a definitive conclusion for the US military’s involvement in Iraq. But while the return of all US service men and women by Christmas is a cause for celebration, the costs of the war are only beginning to be fully understood.

The “cakewalk” to Baghdad, as George W. Bush adviser Kenneth Adelman infamously wrote in February, 2002, has been anything but. The Iraq War, and the faulty premise that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, has had a staggering humanitarian and economic cost.

Here are some relevant numbers:

8 years, 260 days since Secretary of State Colin Powell presented evidence of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program

8 years, 215 days since the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq

8 years, 175 days since President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln

4,479 US military fatalities

30,182 US military injuries

468 contractor fatalities

103,142 – 112,708 documented civilian deaths

2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis

$806 billion in federal funding for the Iraq War through FY2011

$3 – $5 trillion in total economic cost to the United States of the Iraq war according to economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Blimes

$60 billion in US expenditures lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001

0 weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq

Are We Really Done With Iraq?
Eli Lake / The Daily Beast

October 22, 2011) — President Obama went before the television cameras on Friday to announce what had largely been pre-ordained before he took office, that all US troops would be leaving Iraq before the end of the calendar year.
It was in the final months of George W. Bush’s presidency that the United States negotiated an agreement to withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

In his first year as commander in chief, Obama promised to adhere to the timeline, even though many US and Iraqi military leaders said some American forces should remain in the country. The US position on the 2011 date changed this year, however. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his predecessor, Robert Gates, said publicly that some US troops should remain in the country after the withdrawal. The conflict has claimed 4,200 American lives.

Proponents of remaining in Iraq argued that the smaller US footprint would be needed to train the Iraqi military on new American equipment – and as a trip wire if sectarian tensions flared up again and threatened to plunge the country into another civil war.

The negotiations over the 2011 deadline continued into this month, but eventually the talks broke down after the Iraqi side would not extend legal immunity to US soldiers and contractors in Iraq.

On Friday, Obama presented the loss at the negotiating table as a political victory. “As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” the president said. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

But the end of the war does not mean the end of the US presence in Iraq. Indeed, speaking after the president’s brief announcement, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough acknowledged that the United States would continue to train Iraq’s military in the new weaponry that Obama has agreed to sell the government that emerged after US troops toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Just this year, the Pentagon approved a sale of F-16s to Iraq’s air force.

Also remaining in Iraq will be military contractors who currently protect American diplomatic missions in Iraq, such as the US Embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Irbil.
“As part of a new agreement there will be Americans in Iraq training and assisting the Iraqi armed forces,” Qubad Talabani, the Kurdistan regional government representative in Washington and the son of Iraq’s president, told The Daily Beast. “These Americans will not be combat troops but they will be US soldiers.”

The president, perhaps with one eye on his reelection bid, did not mention the fine print as he declared an end to the conflict he had opposed even before winning election to the Senate, and which helped him win the presidency in 2008.
Republican reaction was swift. “I remain concerned that this full withdrawal of US forces will make that road tougher than it needs to be,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

“Multiple experts have testified before my committee that the Iraqis still lack important capacities in their ability to maintain their internal stability and territorial integrity. These shortcomings could reverse the decade of hard work and sacrifice both countries have endured to build a free Iraq.”

As the United States draws down, the massive amounts of military equipment, such as predator drones and other intelligence sensors used in the war, will be positioned in nearby Turkey, according to senior administration officials.

At the press conference, McDonough answered some critics who said the withdrawal could jeopardize the progress the United States has made since 2007 by saying there was a 15-fold decrease in violent attacks in the last three years. He added that “every study and assessment we’ve sought” showed the Iraqi military was up to the task of defending the country.

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