Max Boot writes:
If there is one constant of American military history it is that the longer our troops stay in a country the better the prospects of a successful outcome. Think of Germany, Italy, Japan or South Korea. Conversely when U.S. troops rush for the exits hard-won wartime gains can quickly evaporate. Think of the post-Civil War South, post-World War I Germany, post-1933 (and post-1995) Haiti, post-1972 Vietnam, or, more recently, post-1983 Lebanon and post-1993 Somalia.
Keep that history in mind as you listen to President Obama boast: “As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”
Far from being cause for celebration, Obama’s announcement that we will keep only 150 U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of the year–down from nearly 50,000 today–represents a shameful failure of American foreign policy that risks undoing all the gains that so many Americans, Iraqis, and other allies have sacrificed so much to achieve. The risks of a catastrophic failure in Iraq now rise appreciably. The Iranian Quds Force must be licking its chops because we are now leaving Iraq essentially defenseless against its machinations. Conversely the broad majority of Iraqis who fear Iranian influence and who want their country to become a democracy will come to rue this day, however big a victory it might appear in the short term for the cause of Iraqi nationalism.
“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”
“I'm deeply concerned that President Obama is putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment by announcing an end to troop level negotiations and a withdrawal from Iraq by year's end. The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there's little evidence today's decision is based on advice from military commanders.
"America's commitment to the future of Iraq is important to U.S. national security interests and should not be influenced by politics. Despite the great achievements of the U.S. military and the Iraqi people, there remain real threats to our shared interests, especially from Iran.
“The United States must remain a firm and steadfast ally for Iraq, maintaining an ongoing diplomatic, economic, and military to military partnership with this emerging democratic ally in the Middle East.
“As a veteran and commander-in-chief of national guard forces, I cannot express enough appreciation for our military service members who have protected and defended American interests in Iraq. Our Iraq war veterans made enormous sacrifices to make our nation and world safer, and I know all Americans will welcome them home with great pride and appreciation.”
“The surge in Iraq ordered by President Bush and implemented by General David Petraeus, which began in 2007 over the objections of nearly every elected Democrat including then-Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, brought security and stability to Iraq. This success enabled the Iraqi government to focus on training and equipping their own forces so that they could take the lead in providing the security for their own country. The competence, bravery and sacrifices made on the part of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces working with their Iraqi partners have enabled this transition.
“A democratic Iraq that is an ally with the U.S. in the War on Terrorism is a tremendous victory that will yield strategic dividends for decades to come. However, I am concerned that the announced full withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of this year will place the stability and security of Iraq at risk and jeopardize the gains U.S. and coalition forces have made over the past several years. I am disappointed that U.S. and Iraqi governments could not agree on a framework that would have allowed several thousand U.S. troops to stay in Iraq to combat Al Qaeda in Iraq and continue the training mission that is vital to Iraq’s future. I urge the Administration not to allow today’s announcement to become an obstacle to further negotiations on an enduring security relationship with Iraq.
“We should remain open to renewing discussions to bring back a robust U.S. force at the Iraqi government’s request that can do counterterrorism and support the Iraqi Security Forces. No doubt the Iranian government will seek to capitalize on this development and further extend their nefarious influence into Iraq.”
Herman Cain's spokesman (via Jen Rubin): "We are concerned that the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, according to the Obama Administration’s politically-driven timetable, will leave a power vacuum that Iran will readily exploit. We owe it to the thousands of US servicemen who lost their lives in Iraq to ensure that their ultimate sacrifice has made a lasting impact in creating a stable, free and prosperous country for all Iraqis. Telling the enemy when we are going to leave is not good policy."
Michele Bachmann: "Today’s announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen. In every case where the United States has liberated a people from dictatorial rule, we have kept troops in that country to ensure a peaceful transition and to protect fragile growing democracies. We will now have fewer troops in Iraq than we have in Honduras – despite a costly and protracted war. President Obama’s decision represents the end of the era of America’s influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran’s influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence. We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure. The administration claims that we got exactly what we needed, but today’s announcement demonstrates otherwise. The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues. I call on the president to return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world.”