Some 39,000 American troops will supposedly be headed home by the end of the year. However, the US embassy in Iraq, which is the largest and most expensive in the world, is not being abandoned.
Upwards of 17,000 military personnel and private security contractors will remain in Iraq to guard diplomatic personnel, continue training Iraqi forces, maintain “situational awareness” and other functions.
This is still a significant American footprint in the country. And considering that a private security contractor costs the US taxpayer about three times as much as a soldier, we’re not going to see any real cost savings. Sadly, these contractors are covered under diplomatic immunity, meaning the Iraqi people will not get the accountability that they were hoping for.
While I applaud the spirit of this announcement – since all our troops should come home from overseas – I have strong reservations about any actual improvements in the situation in Iraq, since plans are already being made to increase the number of troops in surrounding regions.
What we really need is a new foreign policy and there is no indication that that is what we have gotten. On the contrary, the administration fully intends to keep troops in Iraq, indefinitely, under a new agreement, while the Iraqis are doing their best to assert their sovereignty and kick us out. Neither are we going to be saving any significant amount of money.
My greatest fear, however, is that this troop withdrawal from Iraq will simply pave the way for more endless, wasteful, needless wars.
November 2, 2011