Defense Secretary Leon Panetta faced criticism during testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee over the failure to get Iraqis to agree to an extended U.S. military presence in the country.
U.S. pressure to have Iraq allow an extension of U.S. troop presence there beyond the December 2011 deadline for withdrawal ended last month after Iraq decided it would not allow immunity for the U.S. military. Obama then misleadingly announced a full withdrawal from Iraq by December, in tandem with an increased U.S. military role in the broader Middle East.
Lawmakers, notably Senator McCain (R-AZ), criticized Panetta and the administration for allowing the negotiations to fall through. He scolded Panetta that the withdrawal would lead to a rise in sectarian tensions and provide a strategic opening to Iran.
“Sen. McCain, that’s simply not true — you can believe that, but that’s not true,” Panetta responded. “The bottom line is that this is not about us,” he said. “It’s about what the Iraqis want to do and the decisions that they want to make. And so we have now an independent and sovereign country that can govern and secure itself, and hopefully, make the decisions that are in the interests of its people.”
But McCain, and others in Congress, didn’t see it as their decision to make, and argued the administration should have strong-armed their way into a new security agreement in Iraq.
In fact, a senior adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has admitted to the news media that Iran did have some influence in Baghdad’s decision to refuse an extension of the U.S. occupation. The adviser, Sa’ad Youssef al-Mutalabi, said that while the decision had been Iraq’s, Iran was taken “into consideration.”
But the win is a minor one for Iran, if it exists at all. The “withdrawal” of American forces is happening in tandem with an expanded diplomatic mission in Iraq, consisting of about 17,000 State Department officials, 7,000 private mercenary soldiers, and a continued military-to-military relationship with Baghdad.
The U.S. has also announced it is strengthening military ties with client states all around Iran, making concerns of impending Iranian influence in the region rather deflated.
13 thoughts on “Panetta Defends Administration on Iraq ‘Pullout’”
It's pretty clear who runs things in Washington and whose interests come first. Everybody and their mother's uncle is happy that the soldiers are coming home, the Iraqis don't want us there and it is dangerous for the soldiers. So what if Iran gets more influence in Iraq, just stay out of that place and buy the oil; maybe the price will even go down. There is nothing anti-Semitic about wanting to stay out of the Middle East, help the Palestinians with self-determination (or better yet, stay neutral in that nasty dispute). Ron Paul was accused of being anti-Semitic for disagreeing ever so slightly with the US foreign policy status quo in the Middle East; however, most people would agree that he doesn't have much in common with Hitler.
Why can't we open an embassy in Iran? Why can't our oil companies do more business there in their oil and gas sector? Why do we care if they have nuclear weapons when it wasn't a big deal when the Soviets got them? Why can't we have a hotline to Tehran the way we did with Moscow? Why do we have to listen to these chickenhawks again who conveniently failed to suit up during the Vietnam Era,. call the shots now and literally force brave American soldiers to do their bidding? Why do we have to give money to Israel when they have cheap college and health insurance for all, something we don't have here in America? Why do we have to hate the people in the Middle East? Why do we think the Iranians are irrational when they have families, husbands, wives and lovers?
The answer to your Iranian question lies in their history, starting with William Knox D'Arcy and his little wildcatting outfit. Highlights begin with the D'Arcy Concession and include the 1941 British and Soviet invasion, and the 1953 CIA coup.
Somehow, to the US killing over a million human beings, destroying an entire country and blowing (literally) a trillion bucks of the people's money is cheaper than just buying the damn black gold for 100 bucks a barrel. It's imperialist/Christian/Republican math. Don't ask me to explain, please.
Paranoia and cowardice are hallmarks of Washington these days, the place where brave military men cringe as draft dodging, war profiteering grandfathers with treatment resistant ED start wars and make a pile of money in the process. No one seems to stand up to them, and the fawning sycophants in the media give plenty of airtime to the neoconservative chickenhawks.
There is a group that is pushing for more war and death in the Middle East, and all I can say is,
'it ain't the Germans.'
I almost choked on my dentures…Panetta actually said something factually and morally correct. But I won't get carried away with optimism…it's probably a case of him just wanting to knock McCrazy down a notch or 2.
Perhaps if McCrazy had spent a little more time being a senator instead of trying to become President he could have advised Bush and Cheney to come up with a better SOFA with results more to his liking.
This is nothing more than another WTF moment in the life of Panetta, the weathervane. He'll soon change his mind back to wherever the wind is blowing.
Tens years, death and destruction, a destroyed nation, mega bases up the ass, billions spent and they STILL hate you and you have no "influence". Golly gee wow! You figure?
McCain is still fighting the Viet Nam War from 40 years ago. We need to put him on some serious meds and lock him in a closet.
The pullout of troops from Iraq is in preparation of an attack on Iran.
Panetta is a giant, ugly, weathervane. He points wherever the wind is blowing that day.
It's other people's homeland. The rougue intruded their home, killing , raping …. made a mess. Now the rougue want to stay in other people's home. The strange thing is rougue say ithey represent "democracy".
There is certainly a huge difference between 40,000 highly trained and well equipped US troops and 7000 "mercenaries." To be fair though they are not mercenaries unless they fall under this definition: Article 47 http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/470?opendocument Most of the contractors are American citizens so they would not fall under the strict legal definition of mercenaries.
As for military-to-military ask the US how well that worked for them with South Vietnam, or the Soviets with Egypt, or the US with Egypt, or the US with Iran.
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