While the U.S. military is making its way out a large government presence will remain. The American Embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the world and the State Department will have offices scattered around the country. Of course those diplomats will need to be protected and a very large amount of security contractors will be there to guard them. Nearly 5,000 in total. With all of the troops out of Iraq and election season coming up President Obama will be able to claim victory in the war in Iraq as will his counterpart in Iraq which is something they both campaigned on.
Since March of 2003 more than 4,400 American lives have been lost in Iraq.
Source: Detroit Free Press
With the American deadline for a full military withdrawal fast approaching in Iraq and Obama allegedly fully committed to it one must wonder why his subordinates are heavily pressuring the Iraqi government to extend the U.S. presence past the end of 2011. The Iraq war which is America’s least popular war since Vietnam has seen a dramatic turnaround since the months following George W. Bush’s announcement that the combat mission in Iraq was “accomplished.” The nation now has a mildly stable Democratic government with an effective military and police force that is growing by the day as well as taking over for American ground personnel in every major role. The Department of Defense nor the President have fully explained why they’re so desperate to extend our stay.
U.S. military leaders have drawn up options for a continued U.S. military presence that include keeping around 10,000 troops in Iraq even though Iraq and the United States agreed long ago that the U.S. must leave completely by December 31, 2011. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costing $9.7 billion dollars a month and costing each tax payer about $12,000 the public should be wary of extending our presence beyond our agreed upon date. The United States has not discussed how long forces, if allowed to stay, would remain within Iraq. In Iraq where a majority of the U.S. mission is complete costs still rose to sustain the troops stationed there from $510,000 per service member in 2007 to $802,000 this year.
New Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who replaced Robert Gates, has been doing his best to create fear about defense spending cuts and leaving both Iraq and Afghanistan too soon but he many not want to state his real reasons. The reality of the situation is that the United States does not want to lose its grip and strategic military edge in such a volatile region. America has spent billions building bases and runways in a nation that shares a border with Iran and it is unlikely that the U.S. would want to abandon such a stronghold and let Iran’s influence seep in. U.S. armed forces in Iraq have noticed an increase in weapons being imported from Iran as well as trained fighters crossing the border. Israel, another close ally, has expressed concerns of Iran increasing its influence if the U.S. completely leaves Iraq for good. If you look at our track record for waging war we never like to leave a nation/region that we have put boots on. More than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea according to Anthropology professor David Vines. If the American people are forced to pay to retain troops in Iraq past the agreed upon deadline then Congress should look into shutting down some of our unneeded bases abroad. An expanding empire in a recession makes no sense at all.