Why US troops had to leave Iraq
To the Editor:
According to Donald A. Moskowitz, "Obama owns Iraqi quagmire." Actually, there are some important facts Mr Moskowitz failed to mention. President Bush signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq on 12/14/08 which established that all U.S. forces would leave Iraq by 12/31/11. Under this SOFA, American troops were protected from prosecution under Iraqi law. This generally is the case in SOFAs. President Obama insisted these protections continue under any follow-on agreement.
According to Colin Kahl, Dep Asst Sec of Defense for the Middle East from 02/09 to 12/11, President Obama supported a plan to allow around 5,000 American troops for support and training, but was unwilling to leave US forces in a hostile, anti-American environment without legal protections to ensure American troops did not end up in Iraqi jails.
Any new SOFA had to be approved by the Iraqi parliament. Iraq's major political bloc leaders met in early October 2011 in an all-night session. They agreed on the need for continued U.S. "trainers" but were unwilling to seek any protections for US troops through the parliament.
According to the Christian Science Monitor in an article entitled "Obama isn't the problem in Iraq. It's Maliki - and Iraqi politics" (06/19/14), "The major stumbling block for these leaders was the standard US demand that its forces be immune from local prosecution. Maliki wouldn't budge on the issue, and probably couldn't have gotten parliament to go along anyway. So the US was forced to depart, as agreed."
So, tell me, Mr Moskowitz, remembering that Iraqi prisoners in US custody were water boarded, kept in stress positions, threatened with German shepherds and many other violations of the Geneva Convention, would you have left US troops in an anti-American environment knowing they could end up in Iraqi jails on real or trumped-up charges? What would you have done differently?