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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Premature evacuation

President Barack Obama addressed the nation Tuesday and announced an end to the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. While handing autonomy and control back to Iraqis has to be an eventual exit strategy, the departure of nearly 100,000 U.S. combat troops by July puts too much pressure on a new government. Certainly Iraq is in better shape today than in 2007, but it’s too soon for 50,000 U.S. troops to keep control of the country.
In his speech, Obama all but credited former President George W. Bushwith stabilizing the country, mimicking the build-up strategy by sending Gen. David Petraeus to Afghanistan. The surge has been effective, but committing to such a massive reduction in less than a year leaves too much pressure on a country still unable to completely police itself.
It did not take the past seven years of Operation Iraqi Freedom for Obama to sense the country is tired of war. Ending the war in Iraq was one of many campaign promises the president has yet to keep. And with the recession still affecting countless Americans, the Obama administration has surely felt the pressure to end a war that has cost the American taxpayer nearly $750 billion.
While violence has decreased in Iraq over the past few years, credit needs to be given to the American military presence. Although the president acknowledged that sacrifice, Obama’s speech bore an eerie resemblance to Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, in which a large banner declared victory as the death toll climbed.
Terrorism has changed the scope and length of war. Sending 100,000 troops home or to Afghanistan will leave Iraq vulnerable in a dangerously unstable region. As Iran marches towards nuclear war, troops may ultimately be necessary to fight more than terrorists. Already, Iraqi insurgents have an ally to the east willing to fund and support attacks against the American military.
No one can fault Americans who want this war to be over, but a declaration of victory still seems premature. When Bush entered the war in 2003, few predicted an occupation lasting into the next decade. While it’s hard to ask troops who have already paid a high price to stay longer, with Iran as its nuclear neighbor, America cannot afford to leave Iraqis to their fate.
A reduction of troops is ultimately the goal in an occupation, but as recently as 2004 the U.S. still had 70,000 troops stationed across Germany. The idea that Iraqis need less of a military presence than a western democracy 15 years after the Berlin Wall is ridiculous.
Regardless of your beliefs on the legitimacy of the war, more than 4,000 Americans have lost their lives in the conflict; we owe it to them to remain committed to the cause they died for. Every American can agree Iraq should be governed and policed by Iraqis, but as much as we’d like to, Americans cannot end the war too soon.

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