After seven years, billions of dollars, and thousands of casualties later, President Obama approached the podium and boldly declared that Operation Iraqi Freedom was over. Therefore, all non-combat troops would be leaving Iraq, and our presence there will gradually wind down. It’s great news.
Except it really isn’t over.
Sure, we can say “Mission Accomplished” (again) because there has been noticible improvements in that country over the last couple of years. For starters, voters eagerly went to the polls to vote for their representatives in Parliament, as well as their Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the latest elections proved to be indecisive, as both coalitions-in-question, one of which is run by Prime Minister al-Maliki, could get the majority necessary for control. In any other country, it probably wouldn’t be much of a problem (see UK elections 2010), but for a country that is taking its first steps of democracy after decades of tyrant rule, it’s a recipie for instability. Terror attacks, as expected, resurged last month, with devastating consequences, and the government wasn’t there to quell the violence. While this rise in violence is nothing compared to what it has been over the last few years, and owing to the fact that attacks have definately gone down, it is still a concern at this critical junction. The Iraqi army should be up to the challenge of policing the streets and protecting their homeland, but it’s a huge responsibility, and only time will tell if the army can take on the challenge, especially when they can’t use the US Army as a crux.
Also, we aren’t even leaving Iraq to begin with. According to President Obama, 50,000 troops will remain there as advisors, plus private security contractors who will help as well. I’m no expert in military terminology, but I don’t think leaving that many troops behind can really be considered a “withdrawl”. They won’t be fighting or anything, but they will still be there, and still run the risk of getting killed, and then would have to fight. It’s not a bad approach, and we should credit President Obama for taking this withdrawl step-by-step, but don’t call it a withdrawl. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to redeploy troops there.
All in all, it is good to see troops coming home (or reassigned to Afghanistan probably), and it is good to see Iraq beginning to grow as a democratic nation. Who knows, maybe Iraq will become a power player in the Middle East, and a huge ally for the USA. Both President Bush and President Obama can take credit for this war’s progress and its winding down. It’s not a perfect finish, but if Iraq doesn’t go the way of Vietnam, we can proudly put this war in the win coloumn. However, we can only wait and watch to make sure it doesn’t, and in the interests of the 4500 troops killed over there, I really hope all the effort put into this country doesn’t go to waste.