Schock: I Support Obama’s Iraq Troop Reductions
On February 27 President Barack Obama spoke at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, one of the largest military installations in the country. During his speech, he outlined his plans to remove the bulk of our combat troops from Iraq by August of 2010, leaving up to 50,000 troops in place – a little over one third of the current American troop presence in Iraq.
Most combat forces would remain in place for the duration of this year, protecting the fragile peace in the country before the national elections taking place in December. The President noted that he reserves the right to revisit the timeline currently envisioned based on conditions on the ground in Iraq.
I support this drawdown of troops in Iraq. We are now able to reap the peace dividend provided by success of our troops, who have sacrificed so much and put their lives on the line to stabilize and reduce the violence in Iraq. Our ability to drawdown troops is also a clear indicator that the surge of forces in Iraq has worked. This is the natural and predicted progression of buildup of forces which was designed to gain control of the safe havens used by insurgents and terrorists, steady the situation and subsequently draw down a substantial portion of troops.
This surge strategy, put in place by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Croker, has allowed the Iraqi people to seize control of their future and become a vanguard of democracy in the Middle East.
I support the President’s plan however, it’s clear there are still risks involved. While Iraq has stabilized measurably in the past two years, the mission is not over and our gains remain fragile. This drawdown of troops must be cautious and we must listen to the generals on the ground as we determine the proper pace of the troop reduction.
With this in mind, we are able to have these reductions because we are winning, both militarily and politically. The hearts and minds of the Iraqi people have turned intensely against the foreign insurgents and terrorists that came to the country to wreck havoc. This major drawdown was the goal from the beginning. Iraq has an imperfect democracy just as we did at the outset of our country, but stability and democracy are both taking hold slowly and steadily.
President Obama's plan is measured and responsible. It is particularly powerful because it is realistic and middle ground. It signifies the coming together of Democrats and Republicans on a key foreign policy issue. Our country has always been strongest when our foreign policy has been bi-partisan. The terrorists also fear us far more when we are united at home.