President Obama has twice in recent weeks highlighted his achievement in ending U.S. combat operations in Iraq by the end of this month. The president had nothing to say on the five-month political stalemate that has followed elections in Iraq, other than that it will have no effect on U.S. troops leaving, and nothing to say about the increase in violence to Iraqis.
President Obama should be clear about our continuing combat commitments in Iraq, reconsider the transfer to civilians some of the inherently military tasks our civilian mission in Iraq will require, and revise the security agreement with Iraq to provide for continuing presence of some U.S. military forces after 2011.
The president’s argument that setting a deadline to end operations would force Iraqis to make hard political choices has proven false. Instead, the deadline has disinclined Iraqi political leaders to compromise and diminished U.S. influence. This has significant implications for the Obama administration’s strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan (where the drawdown of that surge is arbitrarily set for July of 2011).
(photo credit: U.S. Army)