US Troops to Exit Iraq by the End of the Year
President Barack Obama announced last Friday that American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year. This would end the eight year war that cost the lives of more than 4,400 troops, which defined the presidency of George W. Bush and helped propel his political rise.
With the move, only a small number of Marines will remain in Iraq to be guard the embassy and serve as liaison officers. More than a million troops have served in the country since the start of the war. The president’s statement came a day after a NATO air campaign led to the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya.
This would mark the ebb tide of a decade of American military operations that started after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It would end the period of foreign policy accomplishments for Obama who was hindered by a poor economy at home.
President Obama won the presidency based on his opposition to the Iraq war but as president, he ordered a troop buildup in Afghanistan. He also intensified drone strikes against the militants in the region. His move to withdraw the troops fulfills his campaign promise.
His move came after Colonel Qaddafi’s death and the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Obama’s administration has taken its toughest stance on Pakistan’s reluctance to remove militants along its border with Afghanistan. This could insulate the president from Republican charges that he has weak national security policies.