Barack Obama campaigned for the end of an American military presence in Iraq and the speedy withdrawal of our forces. He is now president of the United States and confronted with the reality of how best to get out of the Bush mess in Iraq. Those on the left demand immediate withdrawal while those on the right see no end in sight to the American presence in Iraq. Obama during the campaign talked extensively about a 16 month departure time for US troops, but the words of October may not necessarily be able to translate into the actions of 2009. The issue is not whether American troops leave in 16 or 18 or even 22 months, but they leave in a manner that respects the territorial safety of the people of Iraq. There are over 300 US military bases in Iraq and each base must either be turned over to Iraq forces in a timely manner, of if to be destroyed, there has to be care that ammunition of bombs that might hurt people are removed from the site.
American troops will be leaving Iraq during the Obama administration. It really does not matter if they leave in 16 or 20 months as long as they are gone and an Iraq army replaces them. Let’s not repeat the last time American troops left Kuwait and left an environmental disaster in their wake. We must protect the health and safety of the people of Iraq.