U.S. General: Iraq might not be an American ally

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Iraq might not prove to be an ally of the United States, said a U.S. Army general concerned about the ability of the Iraqi security forces to control the country.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in Iraq,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who commands the U.S. Army in Europe, said during a Defense Writers Group event yesterday while discussing the prospect of a long-term relationship between the United States and the nation it liberated from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

Hertling noted that Iraq “is fighting a complex insurgency,” as the Armed Forces Press Service paraphrased it. “[Iraqi] security forces are competent, but still feeling their way,” Hertling said. “They are still struggling, and it pains me to watch it,” he added later.

The general’s misgivings about the insurgency and Iraqi security forces would tend to corroborate Mitt Romney’s criticism of President Obama for withdrawing based on a timeline and failing to secure a customary “status of forces” agreement that would have kept some troops in the country to assist with security after the withdrawal.

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women,” Romney said last year.

McCain went into greater detail than Hertling about the insurgency when criticizing Obama for portraying Iraq as a foreign policy success for his administration.

“Iraq is going to hell in a hand-basket,” McCain said. “Al Qaida has doubled there presence there. “There are al Qaida training camps in Western Iraq . . . I’ve got to hand it to the president to [be able] to say things that in my view defy reality.”




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