It's Already Too Late in Iraq

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Far from being "too soon," the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq came more than eight years too late--and still, the war isn't over. This war should never have been launched, so it can't be ended soon enough.

[Why America Is More Violent Than Other Democracies.]

The war was based on lies--remember the "weapons of mass destruction" that weren't there, the "links to 9/11" that never happened, the "mobile weapons laboratories" that didn't exist? Withdrawing troops now, after eight years of occupation, doesn't mean the U.S. achieved victory. It was a defeat for the U.S. and a disaster for the people of Iraq. A terrible dictator (who had been armed, paid, and backed by the U.S., we should not forget) was indeed overthrown. But Iraqis faced years without security, basic services, electricity--let alone democracy, human rights, or independence.

The U.S. war, following more than a decade of devastating U.S.-imposed economic sanctions, ravaged the infrastructure and social fabric of Iraq, leaving behind a broken country ruled by a corrupt sectarian government. For eight years, with up to 182,600 U.S. and allied troops occupying the country at any one time, Iraq was one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and remains so today. That would still be the case if we had pulled out years ago, or if we waited another one, two, or 25 years.

[Iran Threatens U.S., Persian Gulf Cities with Missile Attacks.]

Of course, it's important that U.S. troops and Pentagon-paid contractors have been withdrawn. Indeed it's a huge victory for the U.S. and global anti-war movements who made it imperative for President Obama to enforce the U.S.-Iraq agreement requiring just that. But the U.S. war is not over. U.S. troops have left Iraq, but thousands are streaming into Kuwait and onto Navy ships cruising just "over the horizon." Maybe just a few hundred uniformed U.S. troops will be left in Iraq, but 15,000 or more State Department-paid mercenaries are pouring in, doing the same things--guarding the biggest-in-the-world U.S. embassy, training Iraqis to use the weapons we're still flooding the country with, "special operations"--that continue the instability. The contractors include some of the same armed men whose Pentagon-paid violence led to such outrage in the past. Americans may have forgotten, but Iraqis certainly remember.

It's already too late, but the whole U.S. war in Iraq, not only the presence of uniformed troops, needs to end completely. That includes ending the related wars--in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the drone wars in Yemen and Somalia and beyond, the threatened wars against Iran. Only then can we really claim we've "withdrawn from Iraq."

Phyllis Bennis

About Phyllis Bennis Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies

Tags
Iraq
Iraq war (2003-2011)
military
military strategy

Other Arguments

#1
31 Pts
Iraq Stands on the Brink of Disaster

Yes – Iraq Stands on the Brink of Disaster

Robert Zarate Policy Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative

#3
9 Pts
We Should Have Left Iraq Far Sooner

No – We Should Have Left Iraq Far Sooner

Christopher Preble Vice President for Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute

#4
6 Pts
Iraq Is Still A Work in Progress

Yes – Iraq Is Still A Work in Progress

Ilan Berman Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council

#5
5 Pts
We Should Have Left Iraq After Saddam Hussein Died

No – We Should Have Left Iraq After Saddam Hussein Died

Daniel J. Gallington Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute

#6
3 Pts
American Counter-terrorism Efforts Will Suffer

Yes – American Counter-terrorism Efforts Will Suffer

Helle Dale Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy Studies at the Heritage Foundation

#7
3 Pts
Withdrawal Served Obama's Electoral Agenda

Yes – Withdrawal Served Obama's Electoral Agenda

Michele Dunne Director of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

#8
1 Pts
U.S. Withdrawal Came at Exactly the Right Time

No – U.S. Withdrawal Came at Exactly the Right Time

Lawrence J. Korb Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress

#9
1 Pts
Back to Kurdistan

Yes – Back to Kurdistan

Thomas Henriksen Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University

#10
-3 Pts
Obama Traded Stability in Iraq for Votes

Yes – Obama Traded Stability in Iraq for Votes

Danielle Pletka Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute

#11
-12 Pts
The Debate Over the Withdrawal Is Misplaced

No – The Debate Over the Withdrawal Is Misplaced

Daniel Gouré Vice President at the Lexington Institute

#12
-12 Pts
The War in Iraq Was a Mistake From the Beginning

No – The War in Iraq Was a Mistake From the Beginning

Dennis Kucinich U.S. Representative, Ohio's 10th District

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