Obama announces troops will leave Iraq
Professors analyze the president's decision to end the nine-year war
October 23, 2011, 10:50 pm · Updated October 24, 2011, 2:11 am·
All those at Penn who have family and friends fighting in the Iraq War will have their loved ones home for the holidays this year.
President Barack Obama announced to the White House Briefing Room on Friday that “the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year … Our troops will definitely be home for the holidays.”
The news solidifies an end date to the war which started eight years ago under former President George W. Bush and quells all speculation that troops would remain in Iraq into the next presidential term. It is also a confirmation of a campaign promise the president made while running for election in 2008. Obama had campaigned against the war, which was one of the factors that contributed to his victory in the 2008 election. It remains a heated issue in the election to come in 2012. The pool of Republicans that are itching to beat Obama have all taken a strong stance against the announcement, saying that it is premature and will be counterproductive in the long term strategic goals of the United States.
Responses among the Penn community have been varied. The announcement “allows him to say he kept a campaign promise, but it leaves him vulnerable to criticism if things go badly there,” wrote Political Science professor Rogers Smith in an email. “Still, most Americans want him to focus on the economy at home, and full withdrawal is part of doing so,” he continued.
In contrast, Ian Lustick, another Political Science professor, wrote, “I am delighted to hear this news. My own prediction before the war began was that we would be stuck in Iraq for a decade.”
The announcement came one day after Muammar Gaddafi was killed by Libyan revolutionaries with the help of NATO, marking the end of the dictator’s hold on the country. When considered along with the killing of Osama Bin Laden among other leading operatives in al Qaeda and a tangibly strong stance against Pakistan, it may be more difficult to attack the president come November as weak on national security — normally a consistent criticism of Democrats.
The statement came after the news that the Iraqi government was no longer granting U.S. troops immunity from arrest in the country past Jan. 1, 2012. Obama and Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri Kamal al-Maliki met earlier on Friday to discuss the future relationship of the two countries. There has been talk of the United States maintaining a role of advising Iraqi troops, but going forward “[the United States and Iraq will have] a normal relationship between two sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said.
In 2002, Lustick made plans to teach a course titled “Great Power Intervention in the Middle East.”
“The course, which I offered four times, highlighted the regularity with which Great Powers become entangled in Middle Eastern wars” out of overconfidence in their resources and exaggerations of more minor problems, Lustick said.
“I doubt we can say we will not make this mistake again, and we are still saddled with the ‘War on Terror’ which was largely invented to justify the invasion of Iraq, but as Vietnam inoculated the United States against such adventures for at least a couple decades, we can at least hope that our resistance to this kind of blunder has been boosted again.”