The U.S. is supposed to be leaving Iraq. But the Obama administration is desperately lobbying Baghdad to keep American troops in place, which would turn Iraq into yet another costly U.S. military dependent. Washington should bring home America's troops.
The Iraq operation has been a tragic fiasco. Washington invaded to seize non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). American forces turned the country into a charnel house, killing hundreds of thousands and forcing millions to flee.
The war served as a potent recruiting tool for terrorists, leading to creation of an al-Qaida offshoot in Iraq. Washington transferred the forms of democracy without the larger culture of liberty. U.S. intervention empowered Iran.
Yet President Barack Obama wants American forces to say in Iraq. Washington would inevitably end up meddling in Baghdad's domestic affairs and defending it in foreign matters.
A continued troop presence might give the illusion of political influence. But America's influence was limited even when Washington formally occupied Iraq. Moreover, keeping U.S. troops on station would inflame nationalist sentiments against Washington.
Even Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki referred to the end of American combat operations as Iraq's "liberation." Cleric Moktada al-Sadr vehemently opposes a continued U.S. presence and threatened to treat U.S. personnel "as a tyrannical occupier that must be resisted by military means."
American forces, which remain active against Iraqi insurgents on the ground and in the air, have been suffering increasing attacks. Thankfully, no Americans were killed in August, for the first time since the invasion. However, that respite likely will be temporary if the U.S. stays.