Former Ambassador: US Should Have Kept Some Troops in Iraq

Sunday, 10 Aug 2014 02:49 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Had the United States kept some troops in Iraq, the country would have been able to maintain a better-equipped army and the United States could have kept "better eyes" on the country, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said Sunday.

"We would have been able to send counterterrorism operations," Jeffrey added to CBS News "Face the Nation" Host Bob Schieffer. "Most importantly, it's psychological. We would have had a stake in that country and cared for what [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki was doing."

Meanwhile, Jeffrey said that while he can't get into specific numbers concerning how many Americans are in Erbil, which is under threat from the Islamic State (ISIS) forces, he noted there "may well be several thousand Americans or people that we're responsible for."

"You have diplomatic workers, then you have military presence that President [Barack] Obama sent in June, and U.S. Special Forces personnel to do assessments," said Jeffrey. "You also have hundreds and hundreds of people providing security, providing logistics and you have a large business community of Americans there in the oil industry, at universities and other things."

But Jeffrey is skeptical that al-Maliki will be able to pull together an inclusive government, which Obama said Saturday is an important part of Iraq fighting back against the ISIS extremists who are overrunning it.

"The pressure is on him to basically step down," said Jeffrey. "The parliament has to elect a new government after the elections, and it does not look good for al-Maliki, but he's resisting."

But meanwhile, said Jeffrey, there is one way to stop ISIS — by a combination of people on the ground who are willing to fight and airstrikes.

"We've done this in 2011, in Kosovo, Bosnia, and all around the world, and it works," said Jeffrey. "We have other people's boots on the ground [and we] are supporting them."


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