Troops out, now what?

Sept. 11, 2010, 8:43 a.m. | By Melissa Haniff | 11 years, 1 month ago

In his Oval Office Address on Aug. 31, President Obama declared the removal of combat troops in Iraq, something many Americans have been waiting for over the years. Throughout Obama's presidential campaign, he maintained that removing the soldiers from Iraq was a priority of his. In his speech two weeks ago, he again referred to that plan, seemingly proving to his opponents that he can fulfill his promises.

Photo: On Aug. 31, President Obama declared the removal of combat troops in Iraq.

But even with the removal of combat troops, Iraq will be left in a shaky condition. The country's efforts at a democracy have fallen through several times and extremists continue to incite violent acts toward Americans and the policies we have tried to instill in Iraq's government. The 50,000 troops who are still in Iraq "advising and assisting Iraq's security forces," as described by Obama, are also still vulnerable to attack and violence.

Although the soldiers would not be there in combat, some extremists still feel a sense of hatred towards Americans simply because of the destruction that we have caused - whether it was done intentionally or not. According to an article published on Sept. 10 on ABC News' Web site, a new terrorism threat assessment shows that homegrown threats and radical developments are more likely to form now than they were to form years ago. Without a doubt, the remaining soldiers will still have to deal with angered Iraqis and daily hostility.

And we can't forget about Afghanistan. Many of the troops who have been pulled out of Iraq will likely get sent to Afghanistan to fight once again. The 10-year-long war that is still going on in Afghanistan has been showing no signs of ending soon. Although President Obama did his best to assuage Americans' anxiety about the troops in Afghanistan by saying that they will be transitioning home in the next year, it is obvious that Afghanistan, like Iraq, will take years to stabilize as a country and become a safer place.

Obama hit other points in the speech, mentioning the economy and the effects the war has had here in the U.S. He also took the time to speak about the sacrifices many soldiers and their families have had to make as a result of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's reassuring to see that the president can empathize with these struggling families and it's even better that he plans to increase funding for veterans coming back from the wars.

However, it can also be noted that Obama's appeal to viewers works so well because he hits all the right emotions. With his eloquent speech and ability to connect with others, he creates a secure sense of trust that easily lures in his audience. But we have to start looking beyond powerful messages and heartfelt stories.

It is commendable that President Obama took the time to honor the returning troops by sending them a message and declaring Operation Iraqi Freedom over. But we have to realize that the wars are not yet over. The rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan will take years, and it is both our responsibility and duty to make sure that their countries once again become safe environments in which their citizens can live.

Melissa Haniff. Melissa loves music, One Tree Hill, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She is also a diehard Patriots, Red Wings, Pistons and University of Michigan fan...Go Blue! More »

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