In response to the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling on the Iraqi government to expel all foreign troops from the country. The intent of the resolution is primarily to push for the removal of the roughly 5,000 US troops still present in Iraq.
Given the widespread anger within Iraq at Soleimani’s assassination, it’s not surprising that the parliament would make that request. But that’s not sitting well with President Trump, who has threatened to levy sanctions against Iraq that would make Iranian sanctions look tame.
Trump has also threatened to make Iraq pay for the “extraordinarily expensive air base” that the US built in the country, although he wasn’t clear which air base he was talking about. The US currently occupies a number of former Iraqi air force bases in the country.
While Trump’s bellicose rhetoric may be understandable, it’s also counterproductive. Remember that Trump, while he was a candidate for the Presidential nomination and before, criticized the war in Iraq as horribly counterproductive. According to Trump in December 2015:
We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now.
We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!
So what has changed since then? The Middle East is still a mess, and further involvement will just result in the deaths of more innocent civilians and more American troops. Unfortunately, it seems that Trump has been outmaneuvered by his generals and the deep-staters who want to continue America’s never-ending involvement in the Middle East.
Now that Trump has upped the ante by ordering airstrikes and killing an Iranian general, and now that the US Embassy in Baghdad has come under siege, leaving Iraq looks “weak” in Trump’s eyes. So rather than pull troops out, which should have happened on day one of his presidency, Trump is now sending more troops into Iraq, which will quickly become another quagmire.
Trump should have learned his lessons from previous Presidents, such as George H.W. Bush and his invasion of Somalia, and should realize that the best thing that could happen to the US is to pull troops out of Iraq. All the money that has been spent in Iraq is sunk cost and won’t ever be paid back. It’s best to cut our losses and let the Iraqis sort things out for themselves before billions more taxpayers dollars are poured down the drain and more US soldiers needlessly lose their lives.