During Sen. Barack Obama's tour last week on the world stage, he was dealt a very good card in his presidential race. Not only was his trip successful in building up his national and international image, it also helped mend fences the U.S. has damaged or torn down in recent years. Everything from his speech in Berlin to his visit to the gym was covered, yet no seriously damaging gaffes were found.
The best news for Obama, and probably a key point in the debate on the war in Iraq, came when Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki praised Obama's plan for troop withdrawal. This news altered the debate over the ongoing war in Iraq and has given new ammunition to proponents of setting a timetable for exiting the country.
The Iraq war has been an important political issue since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. In 2004 the then-popular war helped President Bush in his 2004 re-election efforts, yet in the 2006 midterm election it was a major factor in returning Congress to Democratic control for the first time since 1994. The Iraq war promises to again be one of several deciding factors in the next presidential election.
Polling suggests most Americans oppose the war and feel it is time to set a timetable for withdrawal from the country; however, proponents of the war contend if we pull out now, it will prove disastrous for rebuilding efforts and would lead to increased violence in the country.
Yet this latest news drives a stake in the heart of this argument when a majority of the Iraqi parliament and the Iraqi prime minister are on record asking the U.S. to begin removing our troops from their country. This is in part due to the improved situation on the ground, and in part due to overall public opinion in Iraq. Despite the improving situation on the ground and the unwanted occupation, war supporters ask to keep troops stationed in the country. Still it is hard to argue we should stay in a country in order to support a government that clearly does not want our occupying forces there.
It is time to realize, five years after we first invaded, the Iraqi government needs to take control of its country. We cannot keep a hold on a sovereign nation with which we are allied when our welcome is worn out. If the government and people of Iraq were still in support of U.S. troops being stationed in their country, the situation would be different.
Our government had an obligation to help rebuild Iraq after the invasion, as it was us that tore it down. Lingering feelings that we need to continue to protect the Iraqi government are understandable, and if the country's people were requesting our help, continued occupation would make sense. But this is clearly no longer the case.
Busby, an English sophomore, can be reached via email@example.com