Staff Editorial: Obama politicises Iraq pullout

President Barack Obama recently announced the pullout of troops from Iraq, but the mission is far from over.

Chimes Staff, Writer

This past week marked the final pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq in a move long-awaited by President Barack Obama’s anti-war constituents. According to Obama, “It’s time to turn the page.”

The so-called pullout of troops, however, will actually leave behind about 50,000 U.S. troops as a peacekeeping force for the foreseeable future. It also does not signal the withdrawal of troops from the Middle East entirely, in favor of redistributing American military attention to the theatre of battle in Afghanistan. Some troops will return home from Iraq for a mere few weeks before being redeployed.

The pullout is little more than a milestone in the long road ahead to peace in the Middle East.

As of Sept. 8, 1,265 military personnel have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and 4,421 have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to U.S. Department of Defense statistics. Of those, the single-largest group is 21-year-olds. Since 2003, 670 21-year-old combatants have perished, according to a count by The Washington Post. The next-largest group is 20-year-olds at 543. These men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country were the ages of Biola undergrads.

Granted, the full-fledged pullout of all American troops engaged in foreign peacekeeping operations would be foolish. The 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq may be the last thing standing between the anti-war crowd that has been ringing in Obama’s ears since day one of his presidency and a re-hash of the Vietnam fiasco. The war in Iraq will be over only when the Iraqis are are capable of effectively maintaining order, yet reports have emerged that as many as one-third of the Iraqi police force are sympathetic to the terrorists, looking the other way when attacks are made, or in some cases, even setting the bombs themselves.We expect a surge in violence as the military presence in Iraq thins out.

Calling the latest troop movements a “pullout” amounts to a purely political move on the part of the Obama administration. The decision hearkens back to President George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished” speech in 2003, made for political gain and appearances. Bush needed to justify the deaths of thousands of troops in Iraq after the motives for initiating the war were called into question. Now, President Obama is approaching an election year and needs to fulfill the demands of his largely anti-war, left-wing base.

He has delivered with the pullout announcement. By reducing military activity in Iraq and shifting the focus to Afghanistan, he hopes to satisfy all objectives: leaving just enough troops behind to prevent another Vietnam while proclaiming victory to the voters in order to see his poll numbers rise. The pullout of troops from Iraq is no mission accomplished. It is a politician’s smoke-and-mirrors ploy to pander to the American voting climate.

We remind the Biola community that the war in the Middle East is far from over. The Obama administration desperately needs voter support to continue its mission at home, and is willing to jeopardise the country’s missions abroad to obtain it.

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