Withdraw From Iraq Now

Originally appeared at The American Conservative.

U.S. forces in Iraq continues to come under fire with another rocket attack Saturday that targeted the same base that was hit earlier in the week. Iraqi officials are insisting that our troops withdraw from the country:

The US retaliation prompted protest from the Iraqi government, which called it a “violation of national sovereignty.” Iraqi officials said the attack killed five members of local security forces.

The government on Saturday repeated its appeal against unilateral US military action targeting actors in Iraq.

“We also refuse that the American forces or others take any action without the approval of the Iraqi government and the commander in chief of the armed forces, as they did on the morning of 3/13/2020,” it said. “In doing so, it does not limit these actions, but rather nurtures them, weakens the Iraqi state’s ability to provide its own security, and expects more losses for Iraqis. This necessitates the speedy implementation of the parliament’s decision on the issue of the coalition’s withdrawal.”

When our military commits acts of war against Iraqis inside Iraq over the objections of their government, they have no legal basis for their attacks. US forces operate in Iraq because their government agreed to cooperate with ours. We have worn out our welcome with our repeated illegal attacks, and keeping troops in the country against their wishes is tempting fate. As long as US forces remain in Iraq, Iraqi militias will launch attacks and the US will respond with more strikes. “Deterrence” isn’t going to be “restored” when the Iraqis launching these attacks won’t be dissuaded from launching more attacks. The Wall Street Journal quotes one Iraqi lawmaker making this point:

“Today’s attack may send a message that attacks against US forces will continue until they leave Iraq, and the US can’t stop them,“ said Ali al-Ghanemi, a lawmaker in parliament’s security and defense committee.

American and allied soldiers are being put in harm’s way for no good reason. What purpose is served by keeping them there except to put them at risk of injury and death? Our continued military presence is contributing to Iraq’s instability, and it is no wonder that the Iraqi government wants us out:

An Iraqi official said “the only solution for the US is to implement the parliament decision and leave” because militias were likely to attack again, triggering additional American responses.

“If the US leaves, then Iraq will be able to deal with these groups, but with this situation, it’s chaos and undermines the state,” the official said.

American officials claim to respect Iraq’s sovereignty. In practice, our government blatantly violates it all the time. It is time that we respect the wishes of the Iraqi government and leave the security of their country to them. US withdrawal from Iraq is the only option that makes any sense at this point.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.