In my recent Yom Kippur sermon, I linked to an article that explained why, even if Obama did honor the pledge to withdraw US troops at the end of 2011, this wouldn’t be the end of our militarized presence in that country by a long shot.
So now that Obama has formally announced the Iraq withdrawal, just pay close, close attention to the heavily militarized State Department presence that will remain.
From a recent WashPo article:
The list of responsibilities the State Department will pick up from the military is daunting. It will have to provide security for the roughly 1,750 traditional embassy personnel — diplomats, aid workers, Treasury employees and so on — in a country rocked by daily bombings and assassinations.
To do so, the department is contracting about 5,000 security personnel. They will protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad plus two consulates, a pair of support sites at Iraqi airports and three police-training facilities.
The department will also operate its own air service — the 46-aircraft Embassy Air Iraq — and its own hospitals, functions the U.S. military has been performing. About 4,600 contractors, mostly non-American, will provide cooking, cleaning, medical care and other services. Rounding out the civilian presence will be about 4,600 people scattered over 10 or 11 sites, where Iraqis will be instructed on how to use U.S. military equipment their country has purchased.
“This is not what State Department people train for, to run an operation of this size. Ever since 2003, they’ve been heavily reliant on U.S. military support,” said Max Boot, a national security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Make no mistake: we’re all going to be paying for Bush’s Folly for a long, long time to come…