Commentary Magazine


We Need Troops in Iraq

I am not the only one alarmed by the apparent White House decision to keep only 3,000 or so troops in Iraq. I have an editorial in the new Weekly Standard pointing out such a low troop figure has not been dictated by the Iraqis—it is a unilateral move on the part of the administration, which seems to suggest (wrongly) we have little stake in Iraq’s future. That point is reinforced in powerful op-eds by Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution and Meghan O’Sullivan of Harvard (a former Bush White House staffer on Iraq).

O’Sullivan points out in the Washington Post  all the reasons why we need a continuing troop presence to solidify the gains made since 2007. Pollack argues in the Wall Street Journal  that 3,000 troops might not even be able to protect themselves adequately.

Their points are well-taken. I only hope some of these arguments will get through to decision-makers—including the commander-in-chief. It is still not too late for the White House to reconsider what appears to be a politically driven decision to abandon Iraq. The irony is, it’s not even clear to me Obama will derive much political advantage from cutting our forces in Iraq down to 3,000 or suffer any consequences if he were to keep, say, 10,000 troops in Iraq rather than 3,000. On every level, the White House decision is baffling and short-sighted.


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