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Commentary: Media miss the mark on U.S. withdrawal from Iraq

Melvin B. Miller | 7/3/2014, 6 a.m.

Americans tend to blame the president for anything that goes wrong in the country. Then it is up to the press to separate fact from fiction. When President Barack Obama is the target of public dismay, there seems to be some journalistic reluctance to resolve the matter with dispatch. International turmoil can often provide fodder for the press for days or even longer.

Iraq once again has major media attention. Disciplined Sunni forces have overrun the paltry resistance of the Iraqi army. Critics assert that Obama is to blame for withdrawing American forces from the country. Too little attention is given to the fact that Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki and his government were essentially responsible for the evacuation of the U.S. military.

Whenever a military force occupies a foreign land, it does so by invasion or by invitation. Invaders will superimpose their own laws on the vanquished. Invitees will always negotiate an agreement with the host government that will exonerate their military forces from local law. Despite considerable effort by the U.S., the Iraqi government was unwilling to sign an agreement to guarantee such immunity for U.S. forces.

The American assault on Iraq began on March 19, 2003 during the administration of President George W. Bush, and the last U.S. soldiers were not withdrawn until Dec. 18, 2011. Despite whatever good the American military occupancy might have done for the country, the war over so many years cost an estimated 100,000-500,000 Iraqi lives. Iraqis understandably blame Americans for the loss of civilian lives. Occupying U.S. troops would have to be protected from the anticipated hostility.

Regardless of the military successes of the terrorists of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Obama will never send a substantial military force into Iraq and have them subjected to Sharia Law or its equivalent. And thinking Americans would not want him to create such a hazard for our soldiers.