Monday, July 14, 2008

Iraq update

Our situation with Iraq is not a simple one. For the past year or so, I've had trouble deciding how to feel about it. But this piece made me realize something...

Barack Obama is strongly reaffirming his stance on pulling combat troops out of Iraq in his first 16 months in office, if elected president, emboldened by the Iraqi government saying last week it supports a timetable for U.S. forces to leave.

"The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity," Obama wrote today in a New York Times op-ed. "We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States."

Maliki's comments have left Obama increasing focused on the withdrawal part of his Iraq strategy, instead of the troops he would leave there to maintain stability, which he had emphasized in the last few weeks as the general election has started. Obama still has not said how large of a force he would leave in Iraq, as ten of thousands of the forces in Iraq are not "combat troops" and could remain in the country even if Obama removed all combat forces.

But his emphasis on withdrawal is likely to quiet critics who said he appeared to be changing his position on getting troops out of Iraq.

"My core position, which is that we need a timetable for withdraw ... is now a position that is held by the Iraqi government itself," he told reporters on his campaign plane Saturday night. "...John McCain and George Bush both said that if Iraq as a sovereign government stated that it was time for us to start withdrawing our troops they would respect the wishes of that sovereign government."
There's two camps on the Iraq issue. The one containing Obama and most of the American people is sick of watching Americans die five years after the mission was proclaimed "accomplished", and is looking for any excuse to withdraw. Understandable. The other, which contains Bush, McCain, and most of Washington, knows that Iraq's government is young and weak, and, thusly, an infant has no right to tell an adult to get out. Also understandable. However, as idealistic as Obama's campaign is, his is the more practical solution to what should be our priority: getting our fellow Americans out of harm's way.

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