Earlier today President Obama made the very important announcement that all U.S. forces wil leave Iraq by the end of 2011. The president began a draw down of forces earlier in his presidency and the full removal of forces keeps a fundamental promise of his presidential campaign in 2008.
For the last 45 minutes I've been on a conference call with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser to President Obama, and I asked him about the president's commitment to the humanitarian situation in Iraq once U.S. forces leave.
In 2007, the National Council of Churches issued a statement that read it part:
“….united together as the National Council of Churches USA, we call upon the U.S. Government to recognize that the continued presence of occupying forces has not provided meaningful security for Iraqi citizens and only exacerbates escalating violence, and begin an immediate phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Iraq with a timetable that provides for an expeditious final troop withdrawal. And we further call upon our government to link this withdrawal plan to benchmarks for rebuilding Iraqi society, since the reconstruction of infrastructure, the restoration of essential services, and a foundation for economic growth are necessary to nurture Iraqi hopes for a stable future, and to steps to meet the security concerns of all Iraqis, including the more vulnerable, smaller ethnic and religious communities.”
Mr. Rhodes spoke in detail about President Obama's commitment to address the humanitarian situation with Iraq through the U.S. State Department and other agencies. That effort will now take place not in the flawed context of a military operation but through diplomatic relations with a sovereign nation. You can learn more about some of what is already occurring at USAID: Assistance for Iraq.
President Obama deserves credit for moving us in the right direction on this critical issue.