Troops coming home from Iraq - can Afghanistan be next?

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President Obama's announcement Oct. 21 that all U.S. troops still deployed in Iraq will come home by the end of 2011 is very welcome news.

Where once some 160,000 U.S. soldiers were in Iraq, now about 40,000 remain.

Since the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003 based on a cluster of lies, a million U.S. troops have served there. Over 4,400 died and 32,000 were wounded, many with injuries they will suffer for a lifetime.

The war's costs so far to the U.S.  are estimated at $1 trillion - a sum that could have kept thousands of public workers including teachers and health workers on the job, repaired vast amounts of crucial infrastructure, and more. Many of the costs are not yet calculated, including those for the future care of veterans.

The war's consequences for the Iraqi people have been catastrophic. Estimates are that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Millions more have become refugees in neighboring countries. Countless communities have been destroyed; strife among Shiites and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds has intensified. Some Iraqi politicians blame the U.S. invasion for driving the country toward civil war.

Efforts by the Obama administration and some in Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's government to have several thousand U.S. troops remain after Dec. 31 reportedly foundered on U.S. insistence that its troops be immune from prosecution under Iraqi law.

The Iraqis' rejection of this condition would appear totally justified, given the record of abuse and murder of Iraqi civilians by both U.S. troops and contractors.

It is also worth noting that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the largest embassy in the world. The State Department says some 5,000 security contractors will remain in the country to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities around the country.

As important as the troop withdrawal is what happens to them after they leave. Will they go now to Afghanistan? Will they serve in some other location abroad?

Or will they, and the funds needed to deploy and maintain them, come home, where funds and people can be employed instead to build a truly 21st century network of education, health care, child care, affordable homes and human services for all?

We hope withdrawal from Iraq will be a giant step toward full withdrawal of all troops and contractors from Afghanistan  and adoption of a U.S. foreign policy based on cooperation and development aid, not on dispatching "military advisers," troops and military contractors to locations around the world.

The next step will require a vast movement of all who seek a world of peace, economic and social justice.

Photo: Father and soldier son reunited at a homecoming ceremony in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette/AP)

 

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  • I want to.know when our troops in Afghanistan are coming home? My. Fiancé was to come home this past Match and hadn't, that's not right

    Posted by Rosalind Campanella, 11/01/2013 8:56am (11 months ago)

  • 1.We Need to close some of U.S.Military Bases in other Counties too! And Build then up in the U.S.A agreed!!! All the Arabs Nations U.S Military Bases should be close down immeadly now! They bdon"t want U.S.A Solders there on there Lands of Nations are Holy Nations too! We Shouls Cut off moneys of from thoses Nations too! Are Burning our Flag too! To disrespected U.S. Solders of the U.S.A too! Let"s cut our Foreignj Aid to Arabs Nations don"t Like Amereicans Citizens too! Tel mthem they are on there own too! Tell the to get lost too!

    Posted by David P.Curcione , 09/20/2012 3:24pm (2 years ago)

  • my big brother Ryan is back from afhganistand i'm saw happy he's home know. he going to be suprise tonight because i'm throwing him a suprise party he doesn't know that until tonight their's alot his friends that are helping me set up right know see yuo later every body piece out love yah.

    Posted by kaili jade markle, 02/29/2012 5:57pm (3 years ago)

  • wow thats really great to know that famileys will be back together in no time but im also said for all those who lost some on ein the Iraq war

    Posted by natasha, 02/28/2012 12:31pm (3 years ago)

  • Let's hope that we will actually withdraw completely.

    After Iraq, then Afghanistan. These two wars must be ended.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 10/28/2011 9:04am (3 years ago)

  • The U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement establishes that U.S. combat forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.

    Obama took credit for reducing forces in 2009 and is now taking credit for bringing them home in 2011. Funny thing is that Bush set these deadlines, not Obama.

    And what about Afganistan? How many troops are over there now?

    Posted by dram74, 10/26/2011 1:33pm (3 years ago)

  • Obama only made an announcement. There still is no exit plan to leave Iraq. You just have to wait and see.
    Seeing is believing.

    Posted by rob, 10/25/2011 11:40pm (3 years ago)

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