Yesterday, Barack Obama all but declared victory in Iraq as he hailed the end of American combat operations in the country, adhering to the timetable established by George W. Bush with Nouri al-Maliki. Charles Krauthammer calls this a mistake and claims that Obama is washing his hands of Iraq at precisely the moment when we need to exert American influence. Instead, we’re leaving a vacuum that Turkey will fill … and Iran:
In essence, Obama will have married the worst of both worlds in this response. He initially campaigned on the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, and then settled for a withdrawal window of no more than 16 months. After Bush’s timeline was established, Obama adopted it, which will mean the removal of a large portion of the forces by the end of this year. However, that military withdrawal didn’t have to mean a political withdrawal as well, which is what it appears the Obama administration is trying. We will end up with the same vacuum that will attract Iran and others into the Baghdad maelstrom without saving the lives and money that a more accelerated retreat would have accomplished (along with a likely collapse of the Iraqi government and its armed forces).
We cannot afford to wash our hands of Iraq, not with a predatory Iran and with a Turkey starting to tilt towards Islamist politics.