Obama’s Iraq Withdrawal Strategy – What are the Risks?

By Karl Gotthardt

On October 21, 2011 President Obama declared that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year and that all U.S. troops would be home for the holidays.  While it was planned to withdraw most troops by the end of 2011, there was to be a contingent of 15,000 troops left behind to ensure the security of the U.S. embassy and other diplomats.  The Obama Administration, unable to reach a deal on immunity from Iraqi law, decided to withdraw all troops.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops does not come without risk.  The 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent defeat of the Saddam Hussein defeat replaced the Sunni minority, which had held power under Saddam Hussein with a Shia majority.  Iraq shares Sits borders with Syria and Iran.  The Syrian President has his own problems to deal with but has Iran as a strong ally in the region.  Russia and China are reluctant, if not unwilling, to take any action against Syria.

Turkey and Iran are in the process of taking on Kurds in northern Iraq, with Turkey having ordered as many as 22 battalions to fight Kurd insurgents after 24 Turkish soldiers were killed in a cross border insurgency.    Iran is a strong ally of Turkey in this endeavor, which is not covered adequately by the main stream media.

If for some reason, U.S. intervention were required in Iraq, deploying troops into the region could become a major problem.  One has only to recall the initial deployment for the invasion of Iraq, to realize the difficulties involved.  This is also a reason for having U.S. troops in Northwest Europe.

Whether or not the decision to pull out of Iraq, in accordance with the agreement reached by the Bush Administration in 2007, was politically motivated remains to be seen.  Obama’s announcement could easily develop into another “Mission Accomplished” statement.  With Obama’s 61% approval rating on handling the War on Terrorism, but low on the economy, this may not have a major impact on voters.  Only 16% of voters consider national security and terrorism as one of their top priorities, while 70% pick the economy.  Obama’s job approval on the economy is a mere 44%.

Critics of the Obama decision to withdraw troops from Iraq have already started to take on the President by stating that the  inability to reach agreement with Iraq about the presence of U.S. troops, the key reason for the year-end pull-out, was a sign of weakness.  Mitt Romney, in  a written statement said,

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women.”  Romey questioned whether the decision was a matter of naked political calculation or just sheer ineptitude.

Americans faced with an almost stalled economy and a 9.1% unemployment rate will see national security as a mere diversion from the real issue.   A turn of events in Iraq, negating the loss of 4,000 plus precious American lives could very well derail Obama’s chances for re-election.

The President will attempt to change the debate from one discussing his economic record to one of national security.  With the capture and death of both Bin Laden and Gaddafi he can tout his national security successes, but will an American public faced with an economic crisis listen?


About the Author

Karl Gotthardt - Politisite Managing Editor Maj. Gotthardt is a Retired Military Officer with 35 years service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He spent most of his time in the Military in Infantry Battalions. Karl took part in training for Afghanistan as an Operator Analyst with the Canadian Maneouvre Training Centre. Karl is a qualified military parachutist and military free fall parachutist. He earned his U.S. Master Jump Wings in Fort Benning, Georgia. Karl enjoys working with horses for the last 24 year. He owns six. He has experience in breeding, training and of course riding.Karl was born in Germany and is fluent in both English and German and he speaks enough French to "get in trouble". Karl has written or writes at NowPublic, All Voices, Tek Journalism and many others.

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