Iraq and US reach 2011 Withdrawal Agreement

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By Peter Bauer

The AP reports that "Iraq's parliament approved a pact that requires all troops to be out in three years, (although) American troops could leave sooner if President-electBarack Obama makes good on a plan to pull out combat troops within 16 months"

While it is exciting to hear that progress is being made, this information created more questions than answers. The implications of this reduction go further than this article will address, but there is plenty to think about.

If Obama does reduce troop levels in Iraq, will he make good on his pledge to redeploy more troops and escalate the War in Afghanistan?

What role will Defense Secretary Gates play in this process? His reappointment marks the first time a Pentagon chief has been carried over from a president of a different party. Will Gates speed the process of troop reduction, or will he stonewall?

If the timetable is respected and troops do withdraw, what will happen to the Sunni Shiite rift? Will a troop reduction lead to another rise in sectarian violence, or will they be able to establish peace and stability?

Finally, what will be the fate of the Military Industry Complex and private security firms in an Obama Administration? Will Afghanistan and Iraq become a perpetual cycle of deployment, or will we see a reduction in military spending?

With a teetering economy, it seems wise to begin reduce spending rather than print more money to throw at a problem. When you're broke, aren't you supposed to save and not max out your credit? Why not start with the largest consumer of federal funds: The Defense Department.

In a world where consequences are of little concern and citizens are smug in their assumption of entitlement, it's time to realize that we can't successfully fix the outside world until our internal world is mended. You wouldn't keep driving on a flat tire; at some point you must reduce your capability and recognize when it's time for repairs. Now is that time.