Some Vets Blame Politicians for Unraveling Progress in Iraq

Image: Some Vets Blame Politicians for Unraveling Progress in Iraq Tribal fighters shout slogans while carrying weapons during a parade in Kerbala, south of Baghdad.

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 02:15 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Some American veterans of the Iraq War are questioning the value of the sacrifices they and the servicemen who died made in the conflict, and blame the decisions made by political leaders for the chaos that threatens to undo the progress made in the country.

According to The Washington Post, a number of military officers also blame political leaders — mainly President Barack Obama — for failing to secure an agreement that would allow the military to stay in the country longer to secure Iraq's stability.

"Anyone who was there during the surge came away very encouraged about the future of the country if we had continued to stay engaged," retired Col. Peter Mansoor, a former top adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad, told the Post.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that the Iraqi army and police needed more long-term support from the U.S. military to solidify their strength, but also said it was unlikely that a few thousand U.S. advisers could have prevented the most recent sectarian outbreak of violence, according to the Post.

"The problem today is that the [Iraqi] government hasn't acted responsibly," Dempsey said during a Senate hearing.

One Army officer told the Post on the condition of anonymity, "My sadness is not for the Iraqis, but for the wasted effort so many of us gave and bought at so high a price."

Eliot Cohen, a former State Department official in President George W. Bush's administration, told the Post he recently detected "real anger at the Obama administration" among senior members of the military for not negotiating a longer-term presence in Iraq to secure the "fragile" success that was achieved.

"Today, most Iraq war veterans feel tremendous pride in their service, mixed with a deep cynicism regarding the Iraq war's goals and its outcome," the Post noted, citing survey evidence.

"Those somewhat contradictory feelings have grown more intense in recent days."

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