Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Despite Celebrated Speech, Has Obama Really Ordered an End to US Occupation of Iraq?" (with audio and video)

Democracy Now! with audio and video:

President Obama’s plan to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq has both been hailed by some as a signal of the coming end of the war while criticized by others as an extension of the occupation. We host a debate between Lawrence Korb, the former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan, and Jeremy Scahill, award-winning author and investigative journalist.

One of the main themes of President Obama’s campaign was his opposition to the war in Iraq. He heavily criticized the Bush administration for the 2003 invasion and vocally opposed the war from the very beginning, when he was still an Illinois state senator. Now, as President of the United States, Obama has finally announced his plan to pull US troops out of Iraq. In a speech at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Friday, Obama appeared to spell out a clear date for a withdrawal.

Under President Obama’s plan, up to 50,000 US troops would remain in Iraq through 2011. But President Obama’s decision to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq has angered some critics of the war. Iraq Veterans Against the War described Obama’s proposal as a ‘plan for almost three more years of an unjustified military occupation.’ Obama’s speech on Iraq left several major questions unanswered. He did not address whether the US will keep permanent military bases in Iraq, and he made no promise to withdraw the over 100,000 private US military contractors and mercenaries stationed in Iraq.

For a discussion on President Obama’s Iraq plan we are joined by two guests. Lawrence Korb is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He is author of more than 20 books. His latest article is, “The Promised Withdrawal from Iraq.” He joins us from Washington DC. And joining me here in the firehouse studio is Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning investigative journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” He reported extensively from Iraq in the run-up to the 2003 invasion. His latest article is called, “All Troops Out By 2011? Not So Fast; Why Obama’s Iraq Speech Deserves a Second Look.”

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