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article imageGOP Candidates, Lawmakers Make Withdrawal A Campaign Discussion

By Sadiq Green     Oct 30, 2011 in Politics
The decision of President Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq was the only decision amid the enormous cost in lives and resources since the Bush administration’s decision to recklessly start a war against Iraq based on false pretenses.
The Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation can be traced back to the prior a President and an administration that used a nation’s suffering for ulterior motives. No amount of reprobating by conservative pundits, Republican wannabe Presidents, or hawkish members of Congress can hide the fact that George W. Bush got America into the Iraq fiasco that not only cost American soldiers their lives but spent our nation into a hole. War spending and tax cuts by the Bush administration are the biggest reasons the U.S. is in deficit despair today and our economy running on empty.
The United States has spent a trillion dollars on a war that arguably should have never been waged in the first place. President Obama was on that side of this issue from the time of his tenure in the Senate and into his run for the presidency in 2008. His recent announcement that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of 2011 marks the fulfillment of yet another major political promise he had made during the 2008 campaign. It's in keeping with the timeline Obama first established in early 2009, when he first laid out a timetable for withdrawal.
As a candidate for president, I planned to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all troops by the end of 2011. So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over." President Obama
A string of U.S. successes, highlighted in part by the daring Special forces raid to kill Osama bin Laden, the Predator drone attack that took out U.S. born radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and NATO’s American led mission to oust Moammar Gadhafi, plus the Bush administration's disastrous record, have given President Obama a clear advantage over prospective Republican rivals on foreign policy front. That may be good news for Mr. Obama. The bad news however, is that foreign policy seems destined to play a lesser role than the domestic economy. Obama may take a hit for failing to produce the economic recovery he promised. The President remains vulnerable on jobs and unemployment.
As the re-election battle begins in earnest, the Republican candidates for their presidential nomination have displayed a disregard for the Presidents foreign policy success. Republicans have suddenly found themselves running against a president who has notched clear foreign policy victories over the last year, thus eliminating a traditional GOP ability to control the narrative that suggests Republicans are strong on foreign policy while contrasting Democrats as weak and ineffectual apologists for American might.
Most of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls have accused the president of making a political decision to pull out all troops so that during next year’s campaign he could claim to have kept his promise to end the Iraq war. GOP front-runner Mitt Romney blasted Obama for what he called “an astonishing failure” to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government. Even former Vice-President Dick Cheney appeared from an undisclosed location to voice opposition to President Obama's announcement.
That campaign rhetoric may have lead to 11 Republicans and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to ask the committee’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), to hold hearings on President Obama’s decision for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of this year. The only GOP senator on the committee who did not sign the letter was Susan Collins of Maine. There were harsh assessments from committee members John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Lieberman, who for years have pushed aggressively for a prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq. McCain called Obama’s decision a “serious mistake,” while Graham said the administration “failed” in Iraq.
“Given the president’s announcement that all U.S. military forces will be withdrawn by the end of the year, our committee should take the lead on establishing the public record on the administration’s plan and ensuring Congress’s rigorous oversight of this consequential decision,” Republican letter to Chairman Levin
President Obama’s decision for a final withdrawal of American forces from Iraq has begun to reveal a Republican divide on foreign policy. Many Republicans have heard the sentiments of constituents who have grown tired of the toll of war. Despite the condemnations from Republican hawks and White House contenders many rank-and-file GOP lawmakers, hailed the definitive end of a war that had grown deeply unpopular with the American public.
12-term veteran, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) took to Twitter to call out the Republican candidates for their criticism of Obama. “If we’re going to get out of Iraq, the sooner the better,” he wrote. “I don’t understand some of my GOP colleagues and presidential candidates.” Rohrabacher is one of a number of House Republicans and Senators — both veterans and Tea Party freshmen — who have become more skeptical of U.S. military intervention abroad, a shift from the GOP of the last decade, which gave Bush steadfast support in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rohrabacher criticized GOP candidate Romney stating: “I hope Mitt Romney understands that the people in the United States are war-weary and are no longer impressed with chest-pounding and military bravado. I think that’s what got us into Iraq in the first place with George W.”
What is being overlooked in the discussion is the fact that the 2011 deadline for troop withdrawal was not the doing of President Obama, but the result of negotiations made by the Bush administration and ratified by the Iraqi Parliament in 2008. And although the deadline was clear, it was tacitly understood by the American and Iraqi governments that a reduced troop presence would likely remain for training and security well after 2011. But the Obama administration has apparently opted out of leaving behind a small training force due to the Iraqi governments decision not grant our troops legal immunity after the deadlines expiration.
Under those circumstances, Rohrabacher said leaving a small residual force would “just make our guys targets for a longer period of time.” “We shouldn’t be begging someone to let us keep our troops in his country and waste our own military resources and sacrifice the lives of our people,” he said. “Begging someone to let us do that is just idiotic.”
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