Complete and Immediate U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq
by Jerome Grossman
On March 16, the U.S. Senate rejected a Democratic resolution calling for the President to “commence the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq no later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution…” The vote was 48 to 50, divided mostly along party lines.
Especially noteworthy was the provision that all United States combat forces be redeployed except for a limited number essential for 1) Protecting United States and Coalition personnel and infrastructure, 2.) Training and equipping Iraq forces, and 3) Conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations.
These exceptions to complete withdrawal of U.S. forces are important. Right now there are about 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. How many will be required to fulfill the three exceptions and for how long? One estimate is 80,000 troops remaining and that may be too low if counter-terrorism operations are organized on a broad scale.
Protecting the vast U.S. embassy in the Green Zone, as large as a city, will require thousands of defenders. The U.S. trainers of Iraqi troops will be exposed to attach by insurgents and nationalists dedicated to changing the Iraq government and ending the American occupation. Reducing the U.S. garrison is likely to make the remainder more vulnerable to the attacks of those seeking revenge for prior wounds, killings, and Abu Graib.
Arab nationalists and religious Muslims are likely to be suspicious of a partial withdrawal, especially a withdrawal that leaves a puppet government in power and buttresses it with military support.
The opponents of the U.S. will not be reassured by the American record of previous foreign occupations. Significant numbers of U.S. troops have been in Germany since 1944, in Japan since 1945, in South Korea since 1953, in Bosnia since 1995. In addition, the U.S. has bases and troops in hundreds of other foreign places, and there are no plans for them to leave. Moreover, the leading Democratic candidates for President, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have clearly stated that they will keep some G.I.s in Iraq to deter Al Qaeda and Iran.
If our country wishes to rebuild its reputation and the trust of other nations after the lies, misrepresentations and illegal acts in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it must withdraw its forces immediately and completely. That will decrease the threat to America by reducing the number of those determined to exact revenge for our actions.