The President is delivering a speech later today to announce the supposed end of the Iraq war. But as far as I’ve gathered, there isn’t even a substantial change in our foreign policy inre: Iraq today. Or even yesterday, or the day before. There was an announcement made by MSNBC a week and a half ago where the last full US combat brigade left Iraq.
So if you break that down, that would mean that brigades which are only partially for combat would not necessarily have left. And then you still have the “non-combat troops” tasked with completing the training of the Iraqi police and military. And for each one of those “non-combat troops,” there are two private contractors and/or mercenaries whom are not really affected by this pseudo-deadline except to the extent that their job is dependent on the presence of “full US combat brigades.” It’s not so much the qualitative change those of us who have been against the war were hoping for as much as it’s a quantitative reduction of an ongoing military occupation.
And seriously, I don’t buy this whole idea of “non-combat troops.” There have been a lot of military officials making a big deal of how the remaining troops won’t be doing any fighting. But I haven’t yet heard a journalist ask any of them what these “non-combat troops” are to do in response to an attack by insurgents. I would think they would, well, combat the people shooting at them. Right? Either they would combat them, in which case they can’t be said to be “non-combat;” or they wouldn’t, which is just absurd.
It could be that by “not fighting,” these military officials mean that troops aren’t actively seeking out insurgents and so the chances of something like this happening are greatly reduced. That would be a fair point, but the whole nature of this war from its beginning has blurred the line between what used to be seen as illegal war actions and legitimate defense. We were told that our military involvement in the Middle East is a “preemptive defense,” a way to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” And so the supporters of the war would object to terms like “invasion” and “occupation” on the grounds that the whole thing was, at its core, a form of defense.
It’s not like any of that matters to Iraqis though. None of the families of casualties from this point on are going to be consoled by the fact that their loved ones were killed by a stray bullet fired by “non-combat troops” post August 2010 when they would have been outraged if they were killed by a specifically-designated combat troop in 2003 through the present. This kind of distinction really matters to the audience of the occupation moreso than those actually involved in it.
The same defense of the war in 2003 can now be applied on a smaller scale to the prolonged quasi-withdrawal of 2010-whenever.And at the same time the Democrats can hope to capitalize in the mid-term elections on their “end” of the war. In the end, this is more about the superficial talking points than any substantial change in the real situation.