Barack Obama wants to keep as many as 50,000 American troops in Iraq indefinitely. His 16-month timetable does not mean a complete withdrawal, only a reduction in force so combat troops can be rotated from Iraq to Afghanistan.
During the Democratic primary, Gov. Bill Richardson pointed out Obama’s plan called for keeping tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for many years to come. Few listened to him. The media and adoring masses were more fascinated with fist bumps than the details of Obama’s Iraq strategy. Besides, they think Democrats nominated a peace candidate because he opposed the Iraq invasion six years ago.
Obama’s 50,000 “residual” troop plan for Iraq is getting closer attention, as he has to spend more time talking about what he would do as commander in chief than what he believes the current commander in chief has done wrong.
The peace movement is coming slowly to the realization that Obama’s election won’t mean an end to war. Here’s Tom Hayden, peace activist, Democrat and increasingly shaky Obama supporter, from a recent article on the Huffington Post:
Obama has “adopted the safe, nonpartisan formula of the Baker-Hamilton Study Group, which advocated the withdrawal of combat troops while leaving thousands of American counter-terrorism units, advisers and trainers behind,” he writes. “That would mean at least 50,000 Americans, including back up forces, engaged in counter-insurgency after the withdrawal of combat troops, a contradiction the media and Hillary Clinton failed to explore in the primary debates.”
Hillary’s excuse: She wanted 75,000 residual troops in Iraq. The media’s excuse: None. Obama insists his residual force will avoid sectarian conflicts. He’s being naive. American troops will not put their weapons on safety and walk away if Shiite militia line up Sunni women and children for execution.
How can you wish anyone else to risk their life for something in which you don’t believe?
“Fighting terrorists” in Iraq is what President Bush claims the troops have been doing for five years. Obama foresees no substantial change in mission.
There are now about 130,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq. Obama would keep 50,000 scattered around the country. At least two battalions, 10,000 soldiers currently in Iraq, would be redeployed to Afghanistan. Obama envisions his own “surge” bringing to Afghanistan successes like those Gen. David Petraeus has won in Iraq.
Thousands of troops in Iraq are on their second or third tours of duty. Many have been effectively drafted into longer enlistments through “stop-loss” orders. Many are civilians who left careers and families behind when their National Guard units were activated. It’s time for all of them to come home. None should have to face more death and horror in Central Asia.
But if you wholeheartedly support Obama, prove it by volunteering to fight his wars. Give weary front-line soldiers a break. Offer to take their place.
Obama can start building his 50,000 residual Iraq force, and the battalions he needs for Afghanistan, from his own base. Instead of the poor and the unemployed doing most of the fighting, middle- and upper-class Obamaniacs can begin filling the ranks.
When they’ve finished with phone canvasing and envelope stuffing, the young believers working Obama’s headquarters can head to the nearest Air Force, Army, Navy or Marines recruiting station. Like Obama says, their time is now.
When throngs gather to behold The One, with his powers of persuasion and soaring oratory, Obama has a great opportunity to find the troops he will need. Military recruiters can be waiting at the exits to sign up those inspired by his call to national service.
MoveOn and Democratic bloggers reach millions of people daily. They righteously humiliated Republican “chicken hawks” who wouldn’t put themselves at risk for Bush’s wars. Will the Democratic netroots now call on liberals and progressives to put themselves at risk for Obama’s wars? Will DailyKos and AmericaBlog call out Democratic chicken hawks who cheer Obama’s military plans, but only at a safe distance from the fighting?
I say to Obama’s followers: If you’re not willing to risk your own life for Obama’s war plans, how can you wish anyone else to risk their life for something in which you don’t believe? And if you don’t think it’s worth anyone’s life to die for Obama’s war plans, why aren’t you on the phone with his campaign asking what happened to the man who was supposed to be the Democrats’ candidate of peace?