The Voices for Peace Prevail as Obama Keeps His Iraq Promise

Operation New Dawn: President Obama Gets Us Out of Iraq
Operation New Dawn: President Obama Gets Us Out of Iraq

Operation New Dawn: Obama Gets Us Out of Iraq

This is the story of a nation beset with pessimism after 8 years of being lied to and taken for an economic ride that left too many Americans homeless and jobless. Think Hooverville. A desperate citizenry was so hungry for change, they elected the first black President, whose message of “hope and change” resonated with their wounded psyches.

During his year a half as President, the nation, struggling under the weight of epic economic woes, easily tossed their hope and change by the wayside. Cynicism was the mood of the day. One of the citizens’ largest complaints was that the hopeful President had run on getting them out of Iraq and yet they were still there.

To put this in perspective, let’s take a brief journey through time:

Flashback to a nation in turmoil, being led into war by a dishonest administration:

March 16, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC’s “Meet the Press”:
And we believe he [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” banner was displayed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a televised address by President George W. Bush. Bush stated at the time that this was the end to major combat operations in Iraq. The problem was, hundreds of thousands of American troops were still there six years later when he left office.

May 30, 2003, during a visit to Poland, President Bush said:
We have found weapons of mass destruction.”

July 14, 2003, President Bush’s Oval Office remarks:
“The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.”

September 17, 2003, the President’s answer to a reporter’s question:
“No, we’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th….There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties.”

The Nation’s new president, President Obama, took office in January of 2009.

February 27, 2009 Camp Lejeune, President Obama:
“Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

Cut to: August 2010 a nation battered by economic troubles and weary of war is unaware that their President is keeping his word on Iraq.

August 2, 2010, President Barack Obama speaking at the national convention of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia:

“As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised and on schedule.

Already, we have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. We’re moving out millions of pieces of equipment in one of the largest logistics operations that we’ve seen in decades. By the end of this month, we’ll have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office — more than 90,000 have come home.”

Watch Here:

We are finally leaving Iraq. By September first, we will have only 50,000 troops left in Iraq. The draw down is called “Operation New Dawn”. As of today, the U.S. has officially turned over all combat operations in Iraq to Iraqi security forces.

“Today is an extremely important day as we continue to progress toward turning over full responsibility to the Iraqi security forces,” General Raymond Odierno, Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq, told reporters after a departure ceremony for the last U.S. combat brigade.

It is the hope that Operation New Dawn will assist the Iraqis in maintaining a democracy (a democracy somewhat diminished by the fact that their current government can arguably be viewed as a puppet government of the US). The inherent risks in any new democracy are high in Iraq: civil war, revolution, and chaos.

The President never wanted to be in Iraq, but he wasn’t foolish enough to think that we could just pull out. He knew that we needed to work with the Iraqis to reestablish their sovereignty, advising and assisting them during the transition.

It was this transition period that drove the impatient Americans over the edge and allowed cynicism to take root. It was easy for us to overlook the very real need for us to leave responsibly. And since most of us aren’t there, it’s easy for us to overlook the need to train the Iraqis so that they can maintain security. A draw down strategy that didn’t take these things into account would have been a disgraceful pander to his base. Thankfully, Obama governs like an adult and orchestrated Operation New Dawn in a way that Americans can be proud of, based as it was upon American ideals of democracy.

Recent polls reflect our current pessimism. In a June 2010 Newsweek Poll, we learn that 51% of the American people disapprove of the way Obama is handling the Iraq War. What’s particularly odd about this is that according to May 2010 CNN Poll, the majority of Americans do not favor this war, leading a logical person to question why, since we are leaving Iraq, the average American seemingly does not approve.

After all, 64% of Americans said they approved of Obama’s plan to get out of Iraq in this fall, leaving only 50,000 troops there, and this is exactly what we are doing.

Perhaps Americans, grown weary of the constant attack on hope, aren’t paying attention. Perhaps we’re tired: Tired of hearing nothing but bad news. Tired of struggling economically. Tired of the rabble rousing every time we try to get any kind of legislation to address the bleeding passed. We’re just plain tired. So tired that we’re missing the one flickering light at the end of the tunnel.

We want to put this part of this painful era behind us. Well, what we really want is for it to have never happened. But that’s the horrible part about electing bad leaders. We don’t get a re-do.

In less than thirty days, we will be out of Iraq save for the 50,000 troops we are leaving behind to help support the Iraqis through their transition back into power.

Currently, we’re not engaged in active combat in Iraq (although Northern Iraq is still a troubled area), but rather we are there in an “Advise and Assist” capacity. We are training the Iraqis to take over when we leave. We’re packing up our supplies (this is taking months, apparently it’s harder to pack up an army base than it is to move a household – go figure). We’re shipping them to Kuwait, from which the majority will continue to Afghanistan. We’re not even patrolling unless we’re called to assist the Iraqis.

We’re returning their bases to them and turning over many of our bases to them. In June 2009, U.S. Forces occupied 357 bases. U.S. Forces currently occupy 121 bases, and are expected to reduce that number to 94 bases by the end of August.

Our mission to train the Iraqis so that they can protect themselves from the warring factions within their own country has been more successful than we really had any reason to hope. We have even managed to get the warring factions of Sunni, Shi’ites and Kurds to sit down together. I can’t say their limited willingness to work together will be long-standing, given their centuries old feud. In fact, I wouldn’t bet on it. But it was a good effort on our part. It’s what we morally and ethically needed to do in order to extricate ourselves from this nightmare responsibly.

I hear tell some of our troops are bored, and even have time to go to a nearby resort to hang out. No one deserves that time more, I’m sure.

But this story doesn’t gibe with public sentiment at all, because the American citizens are sick of this war and we don’t want to hear about training Iraqis or packing up supplies. The only words we want to hear are: “The War is Over.”

This war was utter hell. It was wrong to be there. We shamed ourselves by betraying American values during this war. But this war is almost over, and we have President Obama’s cool head to thank for it. And to be completely accurate, in late 2007, former President Bush admitted that his Iraq strategy had failed, and he stated that as part of the new strategy, we needed more troops to train the Iraqis so that we could leave. President Obama’s strategy built upon this and was implemented with his usual long view approach and buttressed successfully by his very different approach to foreign policy.

They say we get the leaders we deserve. What does that say about Americans? We’ve gone from one of our worst Presidents to a man whom I truly believe will be remembered as one of our better Presidents for the sheer volume of legislation passed and promises kept if nothing else.

Regardless of whether we deserve him or not, we have been truly blessed to have President Obama shepherding us through these dark days. America has always gotten the President she needed when she most needed him. When she was on her last leg, when she was most beaten down, when all hope was seemingly lost, America has had the great fortune to elect the right leader. It seems we instinctively save ourselves when balancing on the precipice of disaster.

Operation New Dawn indeed. One day, Americans will be able to appreciate this President and this will be remembered very differently than it’s being experienced. In the meantime, take a deep breath and spend a few minutes meditating on the fact that it’s almost over. One Bush disaster almost over. Whatever you do, don’t count the remaining Bush disasters and for those few minutes, try not to think of Afghanistan. Sometimes we just need a little hope.

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17 Replies to “The Voices for Peace Prevail as Obama Keeps His Iraq Promise”

  1. This is an absolutely great piece of writing, Sarah. It perfectly describes the conflict between being anti-war but understanding the policy quagmire related to this war, and at a micro-level our individual wrestling matches with the moral dilemmas of this war.

    I didn’t want this war to start, but once it did I believe that we as Americans have a responsibility to fix what we have broken and give the Iraqis back their country in a better condition than before we invaded. It is not an easy balance. This may not be a popular position that we share, but it is one based in a reality where things aren’t black and white, and ideology isn’t a solution.

  2. Thanks so much, Jason. I know it’s not a popular position, but I can’t avoid saying what is glaringly obvious to me. And since I spend a bit of time on base and am aware of things many Americans may not be, it seemed logical to write about it.

    The moral dilemma and internal conflict I feel regarding this issue is a tangled mess. All I can do is try to be as honest as possible about reality, while trying not to lose sight of our moral responsibility. To this end, meeting so many of our troops, hearing their reasons for serving, and seeing what dedication they have to their mission is inspiring and note-worthy, even as I disagree with this war.

    No one was more shocked than I to discover that we were actually having success with our mission there in our advise and assist capacity. That didn’t fit the narrative of my ideology. But it appears to be accurate nonetheless.

    This President is a hard-working man of integrity and honor and a man with respectable judgment. He deserves the nation’s respect, even if they didn’t vote for him and/or won’t vote for him again. It’s a shame to watch Americans be sold another bill of inaccurate goods about this President. Beneath all of the hysterical hype, a lot of wonderful things are happening. Let’s hope America has her New Dawn and wakes up soon.

  3. It is heartening that we are gradually pulling out of a war that was based on lies and should never have been waged. So much money that has been poured into waging it could have been used to address the economic ills that plague us today. As a candidate, it was a lot easier for Obama to say what he would do. But as president, he had to weigh a lot of issues which made implementing the pull-out harder. The fact that troops are remaining there to help Iraq complete its transition means that we are finishing what we started. I don’t like wars at all, even though they may at time be necessary, and I wonder how the one in Afghanistan will be concluded. That is also bleeding this country of money and lives.

  4. Many Americans are so damn simplistic. They expected President Obama to immediately turn around the economy too. These things take time. It took 8 years for bush and the banksters to foul up the economy, so it will take a few years, maybe several years to turn it around, and that’s the obvious truth. We have been in Iraq for over 7 years and it takes time to end a military operation of this scale responsibly but President Obama is doing it, and on schedule. Americans are acting irresponsibly in expecting unrealistic results while President Obama is acting responsibly in keeping his promise in regard to Iraq.

  5. I wish this kind of news would go mainstream. I honestly think a majority of Americans don’t know this is happening. I didn’t, and I try to pay attention. All the news talks about any more is Afghanistan, so it’s easy to forget that things are going on in Iraq, and easy to overlook that they are, if not good, at least moving in the right direction.

    Thank you, Sarah, for penning this excellent piece. Dugg and tweeted.

  6. You are so right. Too many of us are about instant gratification, which explains why some are so eager to elect or re-elect people from the party that precipitated this mess. The Party of No is counting on people with short memories who are susceptible to their lies and spin. It takes long-term solutions to get out of it, and that means voting for people who understand that and care about all Americans. All anyone has to do is listen to the hard right rhetoric of Congressional Republicans, or examine their voting records especially since Obama took office, to realize that they do NOT have the interests of Americans at heart.

  7. I totally agree with Jason! Excellent Sarah!
    Go Team “Operation NEW DAWN”!!! Welcome home to all our Soldiers!

  8. Thanks CW:-) I love the name “Operation New Dawn”, too (esp after Shock and Awe) — it took me a while to realize that this was the thing I had been hoping for. It’s hard to be happy after years of war, so I can’t say it’s happiness I feel, but partial joy and relief probably sum it up. And so glad that President Obama is in charge.

  9. Excellent article, Sarah. It says so much that needs to be said. There are so many people out there who don’t know what’s going on in Iraq and don’t want to know. They want to live in ignorance and in the past and continue to blame President Obama for problems he did not create. They do not understand what is involved in ending a war, and ending it without creating a power vacuum and respecting our obligations to the country we ruined, and its people.

  10. Love the tone of this article, Sarah — very inclusive to both political sides.
    While I certainly enjoy bashing the ‘Pubes at every opportunity — and they do give us plenty — as President Obama has demonstrated, you often have to include both parties to effect real change. Yet you rightly don’t give an inch in assessing where the mistakes were made and where the responsible solution originated.
    Now if only our leaders in government could proceed in addressing the many ills that plague us in this same spirit. I hope at least some of them read your article.

  11. This article is total garbage. Obama has done nothing to turn this country around. If fact his lack of experience has put it in greater financial risk. We are looking at a one term president who has damaged our country for decades. Stop drinking the cool aid and wake up.

  12. Where are your facts?

    We are currently undergoing the biggest drawdown since WWII. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. It’s called a fact.

  13. Well big shock! Duh!
    Today Aug 18 *Breaking news* Troops leaving Baghdad..Rachel Maddow in Iraq and Keith Olbermann hosting this “Breaking” (but not to us, thank you Sarah!)News!
    Yea :D Welcome the troops home!

  14. Thanks CW:-)

    It took MSNBC for a lot of people to listen, but I’m just glad that someone is finally talking about this. Meanwhile, our troops are busy packing up and training the Iraqis. I’ll give an update in a few days:-)

    The conflict in Iraq is over for us. It’s hard to even comprehend this….but I am so grateful and at the same time, hoping the Iraqis can protect themselves from civil war breaking out.

  15. Thanks Rainee. Today (two weeks later) MSNBC announced it. It’s hard to feel “good” about something so awful, but it is quite a relief to have the conflict part of the war over in Iraq for us. Now let’s just hope things go well for the Iraqis and hope the IA can protect their citizens.

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