Thousands of US Contractors Will Replace Troops in IraqDecember 14, 2011
The Big Story today: The war is over — right? The remaining 5,500 u.s. troops in Iraq are packing up — and that’s good news. They’re ready to hand full control over to the Iraqis by Christmas of this year, nine years after the U.S.-led invasion.
But after they come home, 16,000 U.S. contractors on our tax payroll and personnel will stay behind in Baghdad wearing our identity and doing our work. In fact, Baghdad will be the largest U.S. embassy on the planet for the United States. President Obama today at Ft. Bragg admitted the Iraq we leave behind is not perfect by his view, and that success was never a guarantee.
Amid growing instability across the Arab world as we all know, the U.S. departure from Iraq leaves that very country vulnerable to its immediate neighbor to the east, Iran, not to mention additional disruptions from the Kurds in the northwest with Turkey and Syria which has been at or near a boiling point for the duration of the year.
Washington and our country believes, and they are correct, we need a strong ally in that region. But critics say that ally will never be Iraq. Just look at the celebrations today in Fallujah. They wanted U.S. troops gone years ago when the Iraqis revolted against an allied force in the most intense urban battle that the U.S. military has been engaged in since the war in Vietnam.
Joining us on the show today — two Iraq war veterans. Jon Soltz, who only recently returned from another tour in Iraq to chair his position at VoteVets.org. Matt Hoh, a former Marine Corps captain and State Department official who serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy.
“It’s very humbling for the people who fought in this war so many times in the last eight and a half years to get home,” says Jon. “It’s a welcome home moment for everyone. In regards to the future of Iraq — there’s going to be violence in Iraq. It won’t increase necessarily because we left — it’s because we never dealt with the political problems on the ground. There was violence long before we left — long before we entered, and violence long after we leave.”
The Iranian influence in Iraq is a huge concern, Jon points out. “Most likely we’re going to see Sunni groups press the Maliki administration, trying to probably to continue their objective to assassinate key government officials, and — and the Iranians are not going to do some type of invasion of Iraq like the right wing has pointed out. They have huge political influence inside the Iraqi government. I would expect to see testing of the Iraqi government and violence to be what it’s always been, a good clip of civilians getting killed across the country,” explained Jon.
With it being clear that is clear that America commits foreign resources and its soldiers to pursue its own security and the security of its allies around the earth. But how stable are our relationships in the Middle East, according to the people who’ve had to fight there over the past ten years? And what are the key drivers as to whether those relationships deteriorates or improves? Watch the video for the full discussion with Jon Soltz, Matt Hoh and Dylan:
- Meg Robertson is a digital producer for DylanRatigan.com. You can find her @megrobertson.