Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sad. Sad. Sad!

THE NEO-LIBERALS--like the Clintons and the Obama's--lean or are blown int he same stay-in-Iraq expensive tradition as Bush's neo-cons. Sad. Sad. Sad!--KAS

When Will The U.S. Leave Iraq?

In 2008, American and Iraqi officials agreed that the United States would withdraw all of its military forces from Iraq by December 31, 2011. Shortly after taking office, President Obama announced the withdrawal of all "combat brigades." Today, 46,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, down from the peak force of 171,000 in 2003. However, last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. is "willing" to stay beyond the year's end deadline and nudged Iraqis to make a decision soon. "If folks here are going to want us to have a presence," Gates said on his last visit to Iraq as Defense Secretary, "we're going to need to get on with it pretty quickly in terms of our planning." Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen echoed that sentiment two weeks later, saying the Iraqis had to make a decision "within weeks." Yet, the Washington Post reported last week that Mullen's demand "will not be met," thus "complicating plans for the U.S. military withdrawal." While debate in the U.S. about whether American troops should remain in Iraq beyond the full pullout deadline has been scant, Iraqis are currently engaged in a domestic political battle over whether to invite the Americans to stay.

WHAT WILL SADR DO?: While those arguing for a continued U.S. presence usually cite some security fear that is either baseless, unverifiable or impossible to quantify, the influence of Iraqi political leader and Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr is a key factor in whether American troops stay and what effect it will have on Iraq if they do. Sadr's base of support is wide both in Parliament and among ordinary Iraqis, and he has made it very clear that he wants the U.S. military to leave Iraq as scheduled. "If the Americans don't leave Iraq on time, we will increase the resistance and restart the activities of the Mahdi Army," Sadr said in a statement last month referring to his militia of supporters. Sadr not only has the power to mobilize supporters, but he also has political clout, as CAP's Larry Korb recently noted. "If US troops remain, violence against Americans may increase and [Prime Minister Nouri al-]Maliki's government will likely collapse," Korb wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed last month, adding that Sadr, "whose support was critical to Maliki's success in forming a government even though he finished second in the elections, will likely withdraw his support from Maliki if he renegotiates the agreement." Maliki reportedly said that if a majority of Iraq's political blocs support a continued U.S. presence, then Sadr "should abandon plans for renewed violence and fall in line." And while Sadr last week "employed some of his strongest language yet against a U.S. troop extension," the Post reported that he "hinted for the first time that he might not necessarily renew armed resistance." Sadr said, "The matter of the lifting of the freezing of the Mahdi Army is connected to the public and political agreement among Iraqis."

THE COSTS OF STAYING: Nearly 4,500 Americans have lost their lives in Iraq since the war began in 2003, and despite the limited American role there now, U.S. troops are still dying in combat related situations -- 22 so far this year. Since Osama bin Laden's death, news reports have pointed to various analyses showing that the United States has spent trillions of dollars fighting wars and swelling the nation's security apparatus because of the former al Qaeda leader, stayi ng in Iraq will only continue to add to that debt. The U.S. spent $50 billion on the war in Iraq this year, and the Obama administration has requested nearly $20 billion for FY2012. Moreover, it's unclear what purpose a continued U.S. presence would serve. As Korb wrote, "the Iraqi security forces do not need us. They already outnumber the remaining insurgents, and their counterterrorism units are first-rate. Although they are not yet ready to repel an invasion by a foreign government, there is little likeli hood of that happening."

NEOCONS CAN'T QUIT IRAQ: Those leading the charge for the Iraq war in 2002-2003 are now steering the chorus calling on America to stay. Gates' suggestion last month that the U.S. would be willing to stay brought some neoconervatives out of the woodwork, who -- with the support of some members of Congress -- are now warning about the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal and calling for tens of thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq indefinitely. "Twenty thousand soldiers would be enough for the next several years," Fred and Kim Kagan wrote last month, and the Council on Foreign Relations' Max Boot agreed that that "would seem to be the minimum necessary to ensure Iraq’s continued progress." The Weekly Standard's Thomas Donnelly wrote last week that it might be useful for Iraqi politicians to have the U.S. around to do it's "dirty work" in countering Sadr's influence.


"Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy."
-- State Department website, 05/2011


"The State Department today declined to even send a representative to a congressional commission's hearings on human rights in Bahrain, underscoring how the U.S. continues to give the Gulf kingdom a pass on human rights abuses."
-- Salon, 5/13/11



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