Republican politicians have voiced mixed views about President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that all U.S. troops will come home from Iraq by year’s end. Presidential candidates and at least two senators have blasted the policy, but other Republicans have voiced praise, mild criticism, and, in some cases, no opinion at all, The Hill
Obama decided to withdraw all the troops after his administration couldn’t reach an agreement with the Iraqi government over the terms of keeping a small U.S. troop contingent in the country.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s presidential front-runner, accused Obama of “an astonishing failure” to reach an accord with Iraq. Other candidates charged that Obama’s approach was a political one, bringing the troops home to earn votes in next year’s election.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also laid into Obama hard. McCain termed Obama’s decision a “serious mistake,” and Graham said the president “failed” in Iraq.
But other Republicans see it differently, especially given the public’s disenchantment with the war. And many have grown skeptical about U.S. military activity overseas, especially given the huge fiscal woes at home.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California opposed the hawks on Twitter. “If we’re going to get out of Iraq, the sooner the better,” he wrote. “I don’t understand some of my GOP colleagues and presidential candidates.”
Maintaining a small American presence in Iraq would “just make our guys targets for a longer period of time,” Rohrabacher said in an interview with The Hill. “We shouldn’t be begging someone to let us keep our troops in his country and waste our own military resources and sacrifice the lives of our people.”
House Speaker John Boehner represents the only member of the House GOP leadership team to comment publicly on Obama’s decision. He complimented both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama for their policies and only hinted at criticism of the current president.
“While I’m concerned that a full withdrawal could jeopardize those gains, I’m hopeful that both countries will work together to guarantee that a free and democratic Iraq remains a strong and stable partner for the United States in the Middle East,” Boehner said.
But his spokesman, Michael Steel, offered The Hill stronger concerns about the lack of a residual force.
“During Boehner’s visit to Iraq in April, he heard from everyone — both from the Iraqi prime minister and American military commanders and diplomats — that there would be a need for some residual force of U.S. armed forces after the end of this year to ensure the gains we’ve made are protected,” Steel said.
“If that is no longer true, the White House should explain why. And if it is true, it obviously raises serious concerns.”
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