Immanuel Wallerstein: US Withdrawal and Defeat in Iraq

Obama tried his hardest, and in total conjunction with the US military commanders and the Pentagon, to keep US troops there after Dec. 31. He failed, not because of ineptitude, but because the Iraqi political leaders forced the US troops to leave, argues Immanuel Wallerstein.

Middle East Online, November 1, 2011

It is now official. All uniformed US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. There are two major ways of describing this. One is by President Obama, who says that he is thereby keeping an electoral promise he made in 2008. The second is by the Republican presidential candidates, who have condemned Obama for not doing what they say the US military wanted, which is to keep some US troops there after Dec. 31 as “trainers” to the Iraqi military. According to Mitt C, Obama’s decision was either “the result of naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government.”

Both statements are nonsense, and merely represent self-justifying arguments for the American electorate. Obama tried his hardest, and in total conjunction with the US military commanders and the Pentagon, to keep US troops there after Dec. 31. He failed, not because of ineptitude, but because the Iraqi political leaders forced the US troops to leave. The withdrawal marks the culmination of the US defeat in Iraq, one comparable to the US defeat in Vietnam.

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