RESPONSIBLY ENDING THE IRAQ WAR

During his visit to Fort Bragg, President Barack Obama, with first lady Michelle Obama, saluted troops returning from Iraq and stating that the nearly nine-year conflict was ending, “not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home.”  The President highlighted the human side of the Iraq war, particularly noting the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. forces now on their way back home.  “We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now,” he said. “But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long.”  “It is harder to end a war, than to begin one,” the President said about a war that has cost nearly 4,500 American lives and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives.  “The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages,” he said, applauding their “extraordinary achievement.”

Although all U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011, the President pledged that the U.S. will continue civilian assistance to Iraq as it faces an uncertain future in a volatile region of the world.  Even as majorities of the U.S. public who favor ending the Iraq war, it is stunning to hear the “nasty” rhetoric by some Republicans criticizing the troop withdrawal, arguing that President Obama is leaving behind an unstable Iraq that could hurt U.S. interests and fall subject to influence from neighboring Iran.

Sen. John McCain issued a particularly harsh verdict on the President’s handling of Iraq. “I believe that history will judge this president’s leadership with the scorn and disdain it deserves,” McCain said on the Senate floor.  McCain accused President Obama of making a political decision, arguing that the U.S. should have left troops in Iraq to help secure the country. He said Obama was able to bring the Iraq war to a conclusion thanks to a troop surge in 2007 that Obama, as a U.S. senator, had opposed.  “For three years, the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure,” McCain said.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans, including 63% of Republicans, think ending the Iraq war is a good idea.  However, every leading Republican thinks ending the Iraq war is a bad idea, except Ron Paul and Mitt Romney who thinks it’s both a bad idea and a good idea.  The consistent Republican rhetoric lamenting the end of death and destruction is astonishing.

Appearing on the Rachael Maddow Show on Tuesday, December 14, 2011, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Republican), former Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, had some interesting comments:  “The preposterous protest being made my members of my political party, like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others, just boggle my mind.”  “It’s absurd that we were mired in Iraq so long.”   “…nationalism in Iraq is their best defense against Iran, not US forces on the ground, unless of course your plan is to go on to Syria or to go on to Iran from Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course that was the plan of George Bush and Dick Cheney.”   “The only way I can explain (Republican statements) is their hatred for Obama.”  “With any issue you want to pick, my Republicans seem intent on suicide.”   Colonel Wilkerson was talking about the end of the Iraq War and the shameful response coming from Republicans including those running for president.

Colonel Wilkerson said that Republicans “want to defeat this man. They want to bring this man out of the White House. They want to embarrass this man. They want to put this man through every kind of turmoil they can possibly put him through politically. So, they will take almost any stand even — and this is what really grates on me as a Republican — even if it is not in the interest of this country, they will take a stand and have repeatedly taken stands that oppose the president simply because they oppose the president. It’s not America. It`s not the United States. It’s not our best interests. It’s certainly not our national security interests. It’s getting rid of this president.”  Colonel Wilkerson went on to say, “That is political opportunism and political blindness of the first order.  And it may cause me to leave this party eventually.”

On Fox News Sunday in June 2011, Bret Baier asked Mitch McConnell if he stands by his previous statement that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.” McConnell confirmed that his goal remains unchanged.  No matter what President Obama does, whether taking out Osama Bin Laden or responsibly ending the war in Iraq, Republicans continue to say and do whatever comes to mind to help this President to fail.  These tactics are despicable, wicked and shameful, and further evidence that leading Republicans care more about bringing President Obama down rather than trying to resolve the economic problems of our country, but that’s just my take.

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