October 23, 2011 · 0 Comments
By Chris spannos:
In his article for the Times “U.S. Troops to Leave Iraq by Year’s End, Obama Says,” Mark Lander reports on President Obama’s announcement of U.S. troop withdrawal claiming “the last American soldier would leave Iraq by the end of this year.”
But the National Journal says that Obama’s speech declaring 43,000 troops are departing was “designed to mask an unpleasant truth: The troops aren’t being withdrawn because the U.S. wants them out. They’re leaving because the Iraqi government refused to let them stay.”
As recently as last week the White House was trying to persuade Iraqis to allow 2,000-3,000 troops to stay beyond the end of the year. “Those efforts had never really gone anywhere; one senior U.S. military official told National Journal last weekend that they were stuck at ‘first base’ because of Iraqi reluctance to hold substantive talks.”
Another serious disagreement came when Pentagon lawyers insisted that the Iraqi Parliament grant U.S. soldiers immunity from legal prosecution by Iraqi courts.
Lander writes that the decision to withdrawal troops from Iraq “…leaves only a vestigial presence of Marine embassy guards and liaison officers staying on. He labels the troop departure a “complete withdrawal” but reports later in his article that there will still be about 160 military personnel guarding the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, between 4,000–5,000 private State Department security contractors, as well as a “significant C.I.A. presence.”
Iraq Veterans Against War (IVWA) said that they are excited to hear President Obama’s announcement and happy to know troops will be home with their families soon but that “there will be many issues to resolve in the aftermath of this disastrous war and occupation.”
“There is still much work to be done including reconciliation efforts with the Iraqi people, and healthcare, benefits, and transition programs for service members and veterans.”
The same National Journal article notes that, “Ironically, a war launched, at least in part, to bring democracy and political freedom to Iraq will now come to an end precisely because of the free expression of those opinions. Iraqis from all backgrounds and beliefs wanted U.S. troops to leave. Come Dec. 31, for better or for worse, they’ll get their wish.”
Lander quotes one Iraqi in the second to last paragraph of his article for the Times. “The United States here was just like Saddam Hussein,” said Mohammed, a government employee. “We never thought we’d get rid of Saddam, and we thought his sons would just take over. We thought the Americans would never leave and they would just create excuses to stay longer and longer.”
A second article in the Times, “Despite Difficult Talks, U.S. and Iraq Had Expected Some American Troops to Stay” by Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt, explains that negotiations are underway for continued U.S. training of Iraqi security forces and that possibilities are being discussed for some U.S. troops to return to Iraq in 2012.
Chris Spannos is staff and Editor of NYT eXaminer (NYTX).