|Troops to be removed from Iraq by Dec. 31|
|Written by Elizabeth Brei, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Sunday, 30 October 2011 16:15|
President Barack Obama announced on Friday, Oct. 21, that all troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by Dec. 31. The decision will fulfill the election promise he made to end the war.
Erik Rankin, undergraduate advisor in the department of politics and government, said he does not think it is possible for all troops to leave within that timeframe.
“Maybe all combat troops are going to be pulled out,” he said. “There will be at least a decent draw-down of troops but the details of what’s actually going to happen are very sketchy.”
Rankin said it is probably a strategic move for Obama’s campaign for re-election in 2012.
“It’s an intelligent campaign ploy,” he said. “He campaigned on this issue of drawing down troops in Iraq and expanding our role in Afghanistan so what he’s attempting to do is make good on his promise to remove troops from Iraq.”
Rankin said that since it is not clear how the president will accomplish this goal, it is probably not as easy as it sounds.
“To any average American, when you hear ‘we’re pulling troops out of Iraq,’ it sounds like everybody’s packing their bags, getting on an airplane and taking off,” he said. “There’s going to be a large contingent of American soldiers still in Iraq, still training forces on peace-keeping missions. They’re still going to be looking out for American interests in Iraq.”
The United States has remained present in Iraq in an effort to promote democracy and have found little success.
“People who turn toward democracy have to turn toward democracy because of their choosing,” Rankin said. “The Iraqi people have to come to an appreciation of democracy because it is what they want. No matter the amount of pushing and shoving that we want to do is going to fix the situation. If they’re not ready for it and they’re not interested in it, it’s not going to happen.”
He added Iraq will be a more stable place once American influence disappears, particularly by electing their own officials without interference.
“Once the Iraqi people can choose their own people, free of American interference, it will most likely lead to a more democratic, and a more stable, situation,” he said.
Robert Bradley, professor of politics and government, said part of the reason the president is removing troops is due to the fact that they will no longer be granted immunity for breaking laws.
“The current government there would not extend to them liability protection,” he explained. “So that in case they shot somebody that was the wrong person, they would not be held accountable since they were soldiers. The Iraqi government wouldn’t go along with that.”
He added that he thinks it is time U.S. forces left Iraq.
“I have always wondered, as many have, ultimately, what’s the end game here?” he said. “Typically for troops, that is ‘We won! Now we’re out.’ But ‘We won!’ happened quite a while ago and we’re still there.”
Bradley agreed with Rankin that, if a stable government is put in place in Iraq, it will probably not happen for a long time.
“It was becoming painfully obvious that our hopes for a stable democratic regime in Iraq that would be a leader in the Middle-East wasn’t going to happen,” he said. “As that became more obvious, it became easier and easier for Obama to do this.”