Bring Our Troops Home This Year

April 22, 2009|By George S. McGovern

President Barack Obama holds my admiration with high hopes for his message of change in Washington. It is puzzling, however, that he has adopted most of the previous administration's formula for dragging out the withdrawal of our troops from the mistaken war in Iraq for nearly three more years.

Three years ago, public opinion polls indicated that a majority of Americans believed our policymakers were wrong in ordering troops into Iraq. It is widely accepted that this sentiment more than any other factor in the 2006 congressional elections resulted in Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. Are we now going to ignore for another three years the public mandate of 2006?

Can there be any doubt that the enormous war cost has contributed to the financial crisis here at home? Frankly, we cannot afford a two-war commitment, year after year, if we want to balance the federal budget and restore our economy.

Of course, the most painful cost of these wars is the deaths of more than 4,200 brave American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. This is to say nothing of the decline of our political judgment and moral standing in the world.

The Obama administration recommends that we leave 50,000 troops in Iraq to "police" that troubled country through 2011. There may well be flare-ups that will keep them there indefinitely, struggling to police the war-induced chaos.

Our policymakers in Washington contend that we must maintain U.S. troops in the Middle East to curb terrorism. I strongly believe that it is our military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East that is driving terrorism against the United States.

I believe we aging veterans have an obligation to share what we have learned with the American people and with our young president. In that spirit, I urge President Obama to bring our troops home from the Middle East this year. For our sake and God's sake, let's get out of there and begin healing our own bankrupted land.

George S. McGovern was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972. This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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