Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama Pushes Back Iraq Timeline

Is anyone reading this surprised? I sure hope not, but I'll bet some of my liberal friends who endorse the concept of interventionism (and like good Democratic Party ditto-heads support a 17,000-troop surge in Afghanistan) are willing to forgive President Obama going back on his campaign promise. Even as aides say that he is trying to end the war by removing “all combat troops,” or at least reclassifying a remaining residual force of at least 30,000 troops as “non-combat,” Obama just announced that he is pushing back his promised timeline by three months.

I was in Iraq on a Civil Affairs Team. We were not “combat troops.” Too bad no one told the guys who were shooting at us. One of the most common causes of death suffered by American troops in Iraq is IEDs, which often take out the driver of a vehicle. You think it will be any comfort to the families of soldiers who die after Obama removes all the “combat troops” from Iraq (and replaces them at least in part with more mercenaries) that their perished loved ones were classified as “non-combat?”

The excuse offered is nothing new. After listening to “ground commanders,” (like Bush listened to Petraeus!) Obama has agreed to give them more time to cement security gains, strengthen political institutions, and make sure Iraq does not become more unstable again. Wasn't that what “THE SURGE” was for? Aren't we the cause of the instability? Raise your hand if you still think Obama is going to give us any kind of substantive, principled CHANGE in our foreign policy.

From the article in the New York Times, there is a direct anonymous quote that is very telling: “'The president has been struck by the fact that there has been a meeting of the minds in a lot of ways among his military advisers about what would be a safe and responsible way to redeploy our troops while protecting our interests in Iraq,' said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no decision had been announced.” This means that the Obama administration accepts the premise that it is appropriate to use force in Iraq to protect “our interests.” This is the fundamental immorality of our foreign policy.

All of this amidst a backdrop blowback denial. According to another recent New York Times article, after four years at Guantanamo, Abdallah Al-Ajmi was released into Kuwaiti custody, as there was no evidence to convict him on. The Kuwaitis tried him but also released him after a full acquittal. American officials were disappointed, but expected him to, “move on, to put his Guantanamo experience behind him, to get a job and settle down after his time in one of the toughest prisons on the planet.” Yeah, right. Last March he killed 13 Iraqi soldiers near Mosul with a suicide car-bomb.

I learned from my time in Iraq, that by the very nature of the occupation, we are making enemies faster than we can kill them. The dynamics in Afghanistan are the same. We must get over the idea that people in the middle east are going to be any more grateful for our government's intervention abroad than we are of it at home. Through both ground assaults and drone attacks, Obama has already killed dozens of Pakistanis. Do you think the brown people that we continue to dispose of so carelessly care about the skin color of our president? No. They were burning his effigy in protest next to Bush and the American flag before Obama even took office. Although I have no fear of a loving God, Jefferson's famous words are very appropriate. "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

Photo from AP Photo by KM Chaudary: Pakistani protestors chant anti American slogans after setting on fire the effigies of U.S. President George W. Bush, center, Republican Tom Tancredo, left, and U.S. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, right, at a protest rally in Lahore, Pakistan on Sunday, August 5, 2007. Protesters criticized to Tancredo and Obama for allegedly making irresponsible statements on military strikes against Muslims and bombing on the Islamic holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.