A recent wave of violence in Iraq, including a triple car bombing today in Baghdad, should be a cause for concern. Its main source is the lack of political reconciliation among Iraqis; the planned American troop withdrawals for the most part have yet to occur. President Bush’s surge reduced the levels of violence in Iraq, but it was not able to bring about the tough political compromises necessary to bring about reconciliation – leaving the Obama administration a potential powder keg.
During his trip to Iraq yesterday the President reaffirmed his commitment to withdraw all American forces by the end of 2011, redefine the mission to focus on training and counterterrorism, and send a clear message to the Iraqis and the world that America’s troop presence in Iraq is coming to an end.
Six years after the war began, a popular and political consensus has emerged on the way forward. This new consensus represents an important turning point in the debate over Iraq -- and an important early victory for the Administration’s ability to enunciate and build support for national security policies that are pragmatic, progressive and widely supported.
Six years ago President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. Thankfully, we finally have a clear exit strategy that will redeploy all American forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Today, the National Security Network is releasing a comprehensive analysis of the legacy of the Iraq war and tomorrow we will be analyzing the changes that Barack Obama and progressives have managed to push through in the last year.
President Obama’s plan to end the war keeps the promise that he made throughout the campaign to withdraw American combat forces, redefine the mission to focus on training and counterterrorism, and send a clear message to the Iraqis and the world that America’s troop presence in Iraq is coming to an end.
President Obama’s announcement today marks the beginning of the end of George W. Bush’s reckless foreign policy in Iraq – a policy that has cost Americans dearly in both blood and treasure while failing to make them more secure. Part of drawing a line under this era, though, is a return to policymaking in which Congress, the media and the American people ask tough questions and exercise oversight.
Last week Iraqis went to the polls to vote in provincial elections. By voting for a strong central government, there is now an even greater need for the Iraqi government to become more inclusive. Despite these challenges Iraqis face, the outcome of the election demonstrates that Iraqis are increasingly capable of ensuring their own futures and further confirm the need to begin the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq.
This weekend’s peaceful provincial elections marked a major milestone for the Iraqi people. However, the key concern remains whether or not the elections will be viewed as fair once all of the ballots have been counted and whether the losers will accept the outcome.
As the United States experiences its own peaceful transition of power, Iraq heads toward provincial elections this week – the first of several critical touchpoints over the next year. This memo takes stock of where the US stands in Iraq and identifies key challenges going forward.
Events this week underline the real legacy of the Bush Administration's actions in Iraq: a country still tormented by bombings, a dysfunctional political system threatened by power plays and instability, and at home a troubling history of high-level executive branch misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the war.