What Columbians Are Saying About The American Troop Withdrawal

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Though we’ve already somewhat slyly commented on President Obama’s recent withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, we’ve decided that the event deserves a more thorough discussion. The U.S. has maintained a presence in Iraq since 2003, a.k.a. when most current undergrads were still in elementary and middle school. This war has dominated America’s foreign attention for most of our lives, and memory of the war is sure to have a lasting impact on our futures. For that reason, we’d like to offer Columbians the chance to talk about it in a more focused way. Here, we present to you the responses from four different campus political organizations. We hope that they serve as a launching point for your discussions in the comments.

Columbia University Military Veterans:

“The troop withdrawal from Iraq is a topic of immediate political interest, the merits of which will undoubtedly be subject of debate. However, geopolitical and strategic implications aside, our greatest challenges lie in managing the welfare of veterans and their families. Though they represent a sliver of the American population, they have shouldered the burden of our nation’s wars. To many Americans the troop withdrawal brings closure, but to many veterans the struggle to readjust to American society continues.”

Columbia Democrats:

“The Iraq War was a disaster for our country and the world, and the Columbia Democrats applaud President Obama for putting an end to one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history. We recognize that this withdrawal will not be without consequences, but prolonging the occupation will not ameliorate the situation enough to justify the lives and treasure that will need to be spent. President Obama’s decision is in the best interests of the American people he was elected to represent and is symbolic of a new chapter in our foreign policy.

The decision to end the Iraq War refocuses America’s attention where it should have been in the first place: on nation-building at home rather than abroad. For the cost of the Iraq war, which reached $1 trillion in 2008 and was estimated by Columbia’s own Joseph Stiglitz to total between $3 and $5 trillion, we could have given every high school student in America a free college education. We could have established a real national healthcare system. We could have provided universal early education for every child in America – ten times over. The Columbia Democrats hope that the end of this costly and pointless war will represent the beginning of a real commitment to improving quality of life at home.”

Columbia Republicans:

“We pray that Iraq remains safe in the wake of our troops’ withdrawal, and that both their citizens and ours remain secure.”

Columbia Political Union:

“We’re non-partisan, and thus our organization as a whole does not take a stand on political issues one way or another (though our group is certainly composed of politically opinionated people!). However, we do not believe that it is inappropriately partisan to say that President Obama’s decision is a pivotal point in our country’s history and for its future. We encourage Columbia students to become engaged with this issue – to read about it, to argue about it, to debate over it — and we will try to aid them in doing that, because we believe that’s part of our organization’s purpose. And because we know that Columbians, as was shown in last year’s ROTC debate, have a unique relation to this issue (both because of our population and our history), and should consider becoming informed about and engaged with this issue as part of their purpose, too.

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  1. dude

    who gives a fuck about this?
    where's my post-graduation job and means to raise a family later?

    -- seas '12

  2. Anonymous  

    why bother asking cpu for comments on issues if all they are willing to say is that other people should have opinions on the issue? i don't understand

  3. Failboat?  

    I'm a little confused...how is this supposed to spark debate? The MilVets and CU Democrats are the only ones who actually gave an opinion, and the Dems were the only group to address the political aspects at all. I suppose you can't expect much better from the CPU, but CUCR, did you forget you were supposed to make a statement?

  4. just in time

    for election season...

    Not that I'm opposed to getting out of these wars.

    • Anonymous  

      It's ALWAYS election season. Not every decision has to be politically motivated. Or for the cynics among us, ALL decisions are politically motivated and therefore can be treated with equal derision.

  5. SEAS13

    Wow, CUCR is the only group that actually seems to remember that the issues are stability and security.

    In what world does CUCR come off sounding most grounded? Come on, guys...

    • CC14  

      Wow, you seem to be the only person who's forgotten why the US originally invaded Iraq.

      Honestly... how many countries could "benefit" from having U.S. troops there for "stability"... does that mean we should we invade them all? Or do we need to stay in Iraq to make sure they don't use their WMDs on us?

      • Anonymous  

        You're right, we shouldn't have been there in the first place. But like it or not, now it is our problem. We left before we should have once before in the Middle East - when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. We left right afterwards, leaving a gaping power vacuum that allowed the Taliban to take power and Al Qaeda to have a safe haven from which to launch the September 11 attacks.

        • Anonymous

          i'm pretty sure it was the iraqi parliament that asked us to leave. what more do you want? coz we also have issues here that need to be taken care of

        • CC14  

          I think too many people apply the sunk cost fallacy: "Well if we messed up then we shouldn't leave until we fix it". Unfortunately, that's not the way it works.

          We shouldn't attach a special importance to "fixing" the problem in Iraq just because we happened to be the ones who messed it up.

          Look at it this way: If we weren't in Iraq at all now, would you be saying that we should be sending troops there, to stabilize things? If you look at it from that perspective, you realize there are much more pertinent places where we could be sending troops to prevent power vacuums. I mean come on, Iraq's got a three-branched central government, regional governments, an 18 Billion dollar military... and on the other hand Somalia's essentially a failed state. Why don't we have 40,000 troops stationed there?

          But we don't have soldiers in every country with a weak government. Why not? Because it's not the duty of the United States to keep a standing army in every country that has some political turbulence, or every country that would be run by a dictatorship, or every country that has a violent insurgent element. (More controversial remark: We just claim that it is when that country happens to be an important source of fossil fuels.)

  6. Anonymous  

    "... will not ameliorate the lives and treasure that will need to be spent."


  7. haha  

    this is quite comical. The Vets acknowledged the withdrawal but turned it into a cause for their rights. The Dems went overboard trying to make Obama look good, but ultimately answered the question. The Republicans are brief and more concerned about what they look like in the eyes of the citizens, but a good answer nonetheless. And the Partisan Group is honestly just silly, but its nice to know that is there. lol.

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