News / Middle East

US Troops Leave Iraq, Controversy Over War Continues

U.S. servicemen line up to board a bus as they begin their journey home at al-Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 1 , 2011.
U.S. servicemen line up to board a bus as they begin their journey home at al-Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 1 , 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
Meredith Buel

The war in Iraq lasted nearly nine years and as the remaining U.S. troops pull out of the country, Middle East analysts continue to disagree over the success or failure of the mission.

As military convoys roll across the border from Iraq to Kuwait and the American flag comes down at bases across the country, a recent CBS News poll shows 77 percent of Americans surveyed approve of the decision to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of the year.

Sergeant Fred Fox agreed, saying “We did as much as we can to help them out and they are taking the lead on everything.  So honestly, it is time for us to go home and let them take care of their own.”


It is too early to know how future historians will view the war, but most analysts agree on one accomplishment.

Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute said, “Well we eliminated Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and that was a very important success.”

But others question whether broad U.S. goals for the conflict have been accomplished.

Author Peter Van Buren is an American diplomat. In his recent book, We Meant Well, he is highly critical of the war. “Two presidents told us that our job in Iraq was to create a stable democracy that was going to be an ally to the United States and bulwark against terrorism in the Middle East. It would be difficult to say that we succeeded on those goals," he said.

By the end of 2006, violence was raging in Iraq and analysts say the country was on the brink of a sectarian civil war.

Then President George W. Bush ordered a surge of additional U.S. troops, which led to a significant reduction in the fighting.

Frederick Kagan said, “So I think the surge of forces and the change of strategy in 2007 and 2008 was one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of counterinsurgency warfare.”

Although the U.S. spent more than $60 billion on development projects in Iraq, critics say only a small percentage was actually spent on reconstruction.

“The rest of it was siphoned off by security costs, by waste, fraud and mismanagement, corruption, various forms of money disappearing, including profit margins, such that very little was spent on the ground," said author and diplomat Peter Van Buren  

The decision to pull U.S. troops from Iraq has raised questions about continuing violence there and the threat of Iranian intervention.

Adam Mausner of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The troop pullout definitely creates a major power vacuum in the region, and the Middle East abhors a vacuum, so the withdrawal of U.S. troops creates major leverage for Iran to influence Iraq," he said.

Iraq and the United States are now entering a new relationship, says U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey. "We support diplomatically, we support financially, we support through trade and we support through our general security presence in the region, which tends to keep military situations under control," he said.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops died in Iraq, in a war that so far has cost more than $800 billion.

Now home for the holidays, with a hero’s welcome,  Mike Williams and other soldiers call the U.S. military role a great accomplishment. “And, I think, in the long run I think it has saved a lot of soldiers and a lot of civilians in our country from having to make the ultimate sacrifice and having another [September 11, 2001 terrorist attack]," he said.

For U.S. soldiers the war in Iraq has come to an end. For millions of Iraqis, a new and uncertain future is just beginning.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid