S. from the preparation and supervision of the coming elections . . . during this period, the training of Iraqi forces might, of necessity, remain a coalition task, but it ought to be monitored and supervised by the U.N." (Hoffmann & Bozo, 113)
It is clear though that at this juncture, the world community is not yet prepared to take control of the operation. The presence of U.S. forces is a reality prompted by the aggressive lead in to war and the obligations thereby created. And quite certainly, no nation or organization has stepped up to take the lion's share of responsibility which the U.S. has taken for contending with Hussein and his legacy. Thus, Obama's plan does not fully withdraw troops, instead maintaining a significant American presence that suggests the war is not truly yet ended. Accordingly, his 'exit' plan "would leave in Iraq a residual force of as many as 50,000 troops until the end of 2011, the date the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement stipulates the removal of all U.S. troops. According to the president, this transitional force would have three missions: training Iraqi security forces, carrying out anti-terrorism missions and protecting American civilian and military forces." (The Nation, 1)
This is an absolute necessity for helping to contain a threat which might otherwise emerge on the shores of the United States. Historical patterns regarding failed occupations suggest that these unstable scenarios will often help to foment genuine terrorist threats. The Mamdani (2004) text captures this geopolitical dynamic particularly well, indicating that the United States, the U.S.S.R. And other global powers have already helped to create the current Islamic cultural tendencies toward violence and armed resistance. Mamdani notes that "as the battleground of the Cold War shifted from southern Africa to Central America and Central Asia in the late seventies, America's benign attitude toward political terror turned into a brazen embrace: both the contras in Nicaragua and later al-Qaeda (and the Taliban) in Afghanistan were American allies during the Cold War. Supporting them showed a determination to win the Cold War 'by all means necessary,' a phrase that could refer only to unjust means. The result of an alliance gone sour, 9/11 needs to be understood first and foremost as the unfinished business of the Cold War." (Mamdani, 13)
This is an important way of framing the discussion because it distinguishes the political and military objectives that are inherently related to the goals of armed Islamic jihad. Recognition that the United States and others have played a key role in fomenting the violent proclivities which are today regarded as somehow historically Muslim suggests that it must find ways to reverse its policy in Iraq. Certainly, the U.S. is guilty here of committing massive human rights violations. But if its proclaimed commitment to instating democratic order is legitimate, than it must find ways through incorporation of the United Nations and accountable human rights watch NGOs to reduce its instigation of violence while remaining in place for the purposes of administrating transfer into stability.
This will be an extremely difficult goal to attain given the damage already manifested in Iraq and the threat thereby implicated. According to the latest records maintained by the Iraqi Body Count website, widely considered to be the most methodical, credible and empirically founded source for the current number of civilian and combat casualties in the afflicted country, at present, it is estimated that more than 1.2 million Iraqis are like to have been killed since the start of the U.S. invasion. (Ewens, 1) The result is a context in which countless terrorist organization and recruitment candidates have been created and a context in which a failure of the U.S. To remain in place and to do its just would allow for these organizations and recruits to establish Iraq as an asylum for acts like those which occurred on September 11th. All evidence suggests that in its current state of civil war, it has become a haven for this type of activity. Indeed, Priest (2005) reports that Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills . . .There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries." (Priest, 1) This means that a failure to snuff out the heightened threat which it has helped to create would ultimately doom the sacrifices of the last decade to vanity. With over 4,000 Ameircan servicemen and women killed and more than 30,000 wounded, far too high a price has been paid already to simply allow for Iraq to decay into a breeding ground for global terrorism. (Ewens, 1)
Unfortunately, the reality is that today Iraq is the world capital for the development and execution of terrorist activities. The primary reason, most intelligence sources are concurring, is the mishandling of the U.S. invasion. Here, it is evident that there is a fundamental need for the U.S. To remain in place and to redress this litany of failures. Under its new leadership, the drawdown of American forces and the transfer of the onus of the conflict upon the United Nations is an intuitive first step, which reveals a commitment to both the practical and psychological intricacies of this conflict. Though a force must remain present in Iraq until it achieves true stability, the shift of focus toward and international effort at rebuilding may be the only realistic way for us to consider a legitimate exit strategy.
Ewens, M. (2006). Casualties in Iraq. AntiWar. Online at http://antiwar.com/casualties/#count.
Hoffmann, S. & Bozo, F. (2006). Gulliver Unbound: America's Imperial Temptation and the War in Iraq. Rowman & Littlefield.
The Nation. (2009). Obama's Iraq Exit. Thenation.com.
Perle, R. (2002). Statement Before the House Armed Services Committee. American Enterprise Institute.
Priest, D. (2005). Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground. The Washington Post. Online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7460 2005Jan13.html.
Rumsfeld, D. (2002). Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Jim Lehrer. News Hour, PBS. Online at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=3656.