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Pompeo’s Neo-Imperialist Message for Iraq

The Iraqi government has made it clear that they think U.S. troops should leave Iraq. Following repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty that have made their country into a battlefield between the U.S. and Iran, the political backlash against a continued U.S. presence has been too strong to ignore. Leave it to Pompeo to ignore that and declare that U.S. forces won’t leave:

Claiming to want to be a “friend and partner” to Iraq isn’t credible when the administration has spent the last two weeks committing acts of war against their forces and against another state on their soil. Keeping U.S. forces in Iraq makes no sense in any case, and keeping them there in defiance of the Iraqi government is indefensible. It is also pointless and dangerous. Americans in Iraq will have to spend most of their time focused on protecting themselves from militia reprisals that are inevitably coming, and the longer that they stay there against Iraqi wishes the more unpopular their presence will become. Talking about continuing the mission against ISIS is absurd under the circumstances. U.S. troops that stay in Iraq will be targets of increasing attacks from Iraqi militias, and some will be injured or killed because the president and his Cabinet officials didn’t have the good sense to leave when they were told to go. The full arrogance and stupidity of Trump administration foreign policy is on display here.

It is typical of Pompeo that the message from the State Department begins with one of his favorite propaganda lines: “America is a force for good in the Middle East.” That is an ideological assertion that recent events have proven false once again. It is something that a neo-imperialist government tells a country that it views as its subject. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most Iraqis will view this statement as a bad joke. Iraq has experienced America’s “force for good” up close for the better part of two decades, and they have had all the “good” done to them that they can stand. U.S. forces were briefly permitted to come back into Iraq after 2014, and now they are no longer welcome. We should have the wisdom and decency to respect the Iraqi government’s wishes and leave as soon as possible.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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