President Barack Obama issued Friday what he called a plan to end the six year long war in Iraq. His plan calls for a troop drawdown over the next 19 months with a goal of ending "all combat operations" by the end of the year 2010. However, the White House made little note of the fact that 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq beyond the year 2011 for the purpose of "combating terrorism".
President Obama's promise to end "all combat operations" is remarkably similar to former President Bush's declaration of the end of military operations in Iraq during a botched media op in early May of 2003. Meanwhile, the U.S. government will go forward with plans to complete the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The Embassy will be by far the biggest U.S. Embassy on earth, in sheer size larger than the Vatican and topping out at nearly $1 trillion. In addition to the large complex in central Baghdad, fiercely resented by Iraqis, it is unclear exactly what the 50,000 troops that will remain in Iraq will do in a country destroyed by six years of firebombing, militant insurgency and military occupation.
In addition, in accordance with the additional 17,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to Afghanistan, American generals see the fight in Afghanistan lasting well into the next decade. Now in the eighth year of occupation, the new military focus on Afghanistan will continue to fight the ever-resurgent Taliban in some of the most treacherous terrain on earth. According to Antiwar.com, Ex-Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Lt. Gen. David Barno stated before the Senate Armed Forces Committee that he recommends a plan for continued occupation until 2025.
On Friday, a unmanned Predator drone strike in South Waziristan just across the Afghan border in Pakistan killed twelve people. While the U.S. military claims that all killed were terrorists, early reports from civilians in the area show that several tribesmen were killed. Predator drone strikes into Pakistan have become even more frequent under the new administration since the actions began last fall under President Bush.
President Obama has long spoken of the need to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and has even made statements claiming Osama bin Laden will be captured under his tenure. Whatever the case may be for war with the supposed anti-war candidate, American troops can expect more deployments for longer conflicts in the coming years.