Imperial Hawks Urge Obama to Keep Massive Troop Presence in Iraq

The Obama administration has lied again, with the news in recent weeks that US forces would remain in Iraq beyond the December deadline for all American troops to withdraw. They strong-armed the Iraqi leadership (who relishes their client state status in contravention of the SOFA and the wishes of the Iraqi people) into letting stay around 4,000 US troops as “trainers” for Iraqi security forces. Of course, that doesn’t include the 5,000-7,000 mercenaries meant to stay there and the 17,000 State Department employees and contractors sticking around, indefinitely, as I reported here. But now Obama is facing strong pressure from conservative hawks to increase the number of US troops to remain in Iraq, from 4,000 to many more thousands.

In an open letter to the President, a group of 40 neo-conservatives, thoroughly discredited and tarnished from their choral rally for war with Iraq over pure falsities (which have borne out as such), urging him to increase the size of the American military presence in Iraq past December. An excerpt:

The United States has invested significant resources in Iraq over the last eight years.  Under your leadership and that of your predecessor, America has helped Iraq’s fledgling democracy emerge as a symbol to other peoples of the region, becoming, in the words of former Secretary of Defense Gates, “a multi-sectarian, multi-ethnic society in the Arab world that shows that democracy can work.”

We are thus gravely concerned about recent news reports suggesting that the White House is considering leaving only a residual force of 4,000 or fewer U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of this year.  This number is significantly smaller than what U.S. military commanders on the ground have reportedly recommended and would limit our ability to ensure that Iraq remains stable and free from significant foreign influence in the years to come.

…Failure to leave a significant U.S. military presence in Iraq will leave the country more vulnerable to internal and external threats, thus imperiling the hard-fought gains in security and governance made in recent years at significant cost to the United States.  A successful, democratic Iraq will remain a model for other emerging Arab democracies and one day, its neighbor, Iran.  However, a failing state in the heart of the Middle East would destabilize the region, empower Iran, and make vain more than eight years of efforts by the United States in Iraq.

First, some translations. By “Iraq’s fledgling democracy” they mean an Iraq that is sliding towards dictatorship, ruining civil society, and torturing its prisoners. By “leave the country more vulnerable to internal and external threats” they mean allow Iraq to adopt policies that are not directly subservient to US demands. By “empower Iran” they mean empower Iran, because we were too stupid and reckless to realize that our insane imperial adventure there might empower our benign sworn enemy. Here are the signatories:

Gary Bauer, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Paul Bremer, Norm Coleman, Seth Cropsey, Thomas Donnelly, Colin Dueck, Eric Edelman, Jamie Fly, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Abe Greenwald, John Hannah, Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, Ash Jain, Kenneth M. Jensen, Frederick Kagan, Robert Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Lawrence Kaplan, William Kristol, Tod Lindberg, Herbert London, Michael Makovsky, Cliff May, Joshua Muravchik, Andrew Natsios, Michael O’Hanlon, Danielle Pletka, John Podhoretz, Karl Rove, Kori Schake, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, Dan Senor, Michael Singh, Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, Marc Thiessen, Daniel Twining, Peter Wehner, Kenneth Weinstein, Paul Wolfowitz

There is a parallel that can be drawn from this letter that I have the unfortunate opportunity to point out. At least two of the signatories were also signatories of an earlier open letter to a US president, which urged for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. In 1998, a similar group of signatories affiliated with the Project for a New American Century wrote to Bill Clinton. They pleaded for what they would ultimately receive in the Bush administration: regime change in Iraq. Later in 1998, though, they would partially get their wish with the Iraq Liberation Act, which officially supported Iraqi groups aiming at the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.

It’s truly amazing that these rabid imperialists, gleaning for control over “the heart of the Middle East,” have not fallen far enough into disrepute to preclude them from writing an open letter to the President that might garner any attention at all. After all the folly their pretensions of imperial grandeur hath wrought, they still vie for the President’s ear in extending their mistakes, in expanding America’s moral embarrassment that is the Iraq war. I’m sick.

  • Watson

    As the Panneta article clearly states, leaving any US troops in Iraq hasn't been agreed to by the Iraq govt yet. The US needs their approval according to the SOFA, and they have been strangely silent on giving it. Could it possibly be that they actually want us out?

  • AW in LA

    Iraq IS a fledgling democracy, at least as defined by the behavior of those two great pillars of freedom, the US and Israel!

  • Orville H. Larson

    I'm glad the signatories to that letter are listed. They're all chickenhawks, Israel-Firsters, and warmongering liars.

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