A Plea for American Healing As the War in Iraq Winds Down

American Troops Turn Bases Over to Iraqis

American Troops Turn Bases Over to Iraqis

With the Iraq drawdown comes criticism and violence. Expect these criticisms to warp unrecognizably and pop up on Fox this week as talking points against the drawdown.

The drawdown in Iraq (Operation New Dawn) came under fire today along with reports of violence erupting throughout Iraq, in what had been a calm area. The criticism of leaving Iraq comes from all sides. For the Left the troops can’t get out fast enough, and to the Right the troops should never leave at all, even former Saddam VP Tariq Aziz is critical of the withdrawal of the same American troops that removed him from power.

The day before we turned all combat missions over to Iraqi security forces, The Guardian UK came out with a story quoting Saddam Hussein’s former VP Tariq Aziz (from his jailhouse where he is serving 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity) accusing President Obama of abandoning Iraq.

The Guardian reported:

“Aziz slammed the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country, saying that both America and the United Kingdom had an obligation to make sure Iraq was back on its feet before exiting.

“‘We are all victims of America and Britain, They killed our country in many ways. When you make a mistake you need to correct a mistake, not leave Iraq to its death.'”

Yesterday’s headlines screamed: Aziz: Obama is “Leaving Iraq to the wolves!” Yahoo then pushed back a bit with an interview with Aziz’s lawyer, who suggested that Aziz was misquoted:

“I know how Mr. Aziz speaks and I know that he’s not very aware or informed of what goes on in the world outside the jailhouse where he is,” Aref told The Associated Press. “So, how could he say what he said about the U.S. troop withdrawal and about President Obama? He was definitely misquoted.”

Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq was on ABC’s “This Week“.

Despite the latest reports of violence, Odierno said the security situation has drastically improved in Iraq since 2006:

Watch Here:

AMANPOUR: But five months after elections, Iraqi politicians have not yet formed a government, and violence continues. Last night, three explosions at a market in southern Iraq killed dozens of people. And today, two car bombs went off west of Baghdad.

ODIERNO: Well, this is something that we’ve been working for a very long time with the Iraqi security forces. For the last 20 months, we’ve been slowly and deliberately turning over more and more responsibility to them, and they have stepped up. They continue to do broad-scoped operations across all of Iraq. We continue to help them as they do these, and that will continue after 1 September, our assistance. But we do believe they are ready to assume full operations in Iraq……

AMANPOUR:……… What gives you the most concern at the moment as you approach that August 31st date?

ODIERNO: I think I would just say it’s not the security profile. Obviously I believe there will be people who attempt to take advantage of the opportunity of the attention being brought upon the August 31st date. And so, there will be groups who will try to take advantage and show weakness in the government of Iraq and try to create some sort of lack of confidence of the people in the process as you move forward. So that’s probably my first concern. But I believe we can overcome that concern. The second is, is that the Iraqis have to understand the importance of forming a government, doing it as quickly as possible, and getting themselves ready to leap forward so they can make progress on the economic front and the diplomatic front. And they’ve got to set themselves up for that, so it’s important for the Iraqis to understand the importance of moving forward quickly, and I think we’re starting to see that as we see negotiations pick up over the last couple of weeks.

Command General Odierno summed up his position thusly:

“Our commitment in Iraq is changing from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats…. We have ups and downs here…. There is a level of violence and level of terrorism here that’s going to occur, though the success that we’ve had against Al Qaeda in Iraq, specifically in decapitating the leadership, has in fact affected them…

The U.S. will continue to support Iraq’s stabilization…We’ll have 50,000 troops on the ground. That is still a very significant presence to continue to assist the Iraqi security forces as we move forward.”

The Iraq war remains the ultimate unresolved political and ethical moral dilemma confronting our nation. The philosophical quagmire started with Bush’s decision to invade, and it is continuing straight through Obama’s decision to depart.

It would be great if the nation, Right and Left, could come together during this transition to support our country’s conclusion of the mission in Iraq and our President’s strategy. There is no easy way out. But we’ve done everything we can to train the Iraqis and we’ve utilized our diplomatic efforts to bring the warring political factions to the table.

In spite of all of the griping on both sides, we Americans can be better than this. We can move forward together. We can stay committed to our values of Democracy and support our efforts to leave Iraq responsibly. It is time for us for us to agree to let the Iraqis stand on their own and for America to get beyond the moral quagmire of preemptive war.

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