Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Middle East Flypaper

The decision to keep up to 50,000 American troops in Iraq after August of next year underscores the need for extreme caution in escalating our involvement in Afghanistan and any future commitment of forces in the region.

Those originally drawn to support Barack Obama's presidential campaign by his determination to get out of Iraq will have to be persuaded that continuing US presence of such magnitude is justified. Calling it a "transition force" will not mask the fact of an indefinite occupation.

Congressional Democrats are reacting with disappointment, but stronger emotion will have to pressure the Obama Administration to provide its vaunted transparency on this issue.

American voters rejected John McCain's vision of the Iraq war last November, but the Obama timetable for withdrawal is now earning his approval as "thoughtful and well prepared." How did we get from there to here?

Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule about Iraq ("You break it, you own it") is morphing into a flypaper rule: "You go there and you're stuck indefinitely."

The President we chose to end what he called "a dumb war" owes us an explanation for why he is authorizing what looks like a not-so-smart extension of it into a distant future.


Tony said...

I think Obama either dropped the ball on this, thinking that we could just quickly pull out of Iraq without blinking twice, or he purposely misled his supporters. Despite being an Obama supporter, I’ve always figured that we couldn’t just pull out of Iraq lickety-split, so I am not surprised by this decision. Whether we should be shaking a finger at Obama or telling him “Good choice”, I am glad that he is making this decision and choosing to lead as a moderate (so far) rather than acting like the “flaming liberal” that the Republicans accused him of being.

johnrj08 said...

I am deeply troubled by the size of this non-combat, "support" force that Obama wants to keep in Iraq after our combat troops have left that country. 50,000 troops is more than 1/3 of the force we have there now. Whether they're conducting combat missions or not, these soldiers will continue to be targets, attracting the fire of various anti-American factions, and they will continue to be used by the harsh critics of U.S. policy in the Arab world. Why not billet a strike force in Kuwait that can move quickly if a smaller U.S. contingent in Iraq came under fire? I don't understand the logic behind keeping this enormous number of our people in that country.

Yellow Dog Don said...

There was never any plan to get out of Iraq. We have the biggest most expensive embassy ever constructed there. We will have troops there just as we still have troops in Korea.

It is worth a visit to this web site

to see how we utilize our military resources around the world.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Obama is finding out things he didn't know about what's actually happening in Iraq, including that there are big risks now that we're in there, in getting out as quickly as he would have liked.


Gherald L said...

I gathered some deployment numbers to put this in perspective.

ryorkport said...

There is one principal reason that Obama is stuck in Iraq: The Powell/Pottery Barn thesis - if you break it, you own it.

Getting into that war was one of the most stupid acts of an astonishingly incompetent group of humans. Unfortunately, they had strong backing, through blatant lying, from the American people. We wrecked Iraq and its people. Unless we want to do what we did in Vietnam, i.e., abandon it, we have to help rebuild what we destroyed.

And, because we created the civil chaos there - which seems to have abated some - we have made it difficult to accomplish the rebuilding without military protection. I have no idea how many troops that will take, 5,000 or 50,000. But, Obama is being rational to go with the latter number at first.

Only a naif could think that we could glue back together the pot we broke in 16 months.