Troops To Leave Iraq By December 31

10.22.2011
CNN

FEYERICK: Well, President Obama's decision to bring all combat troops home from Iraq is met with scathing criticism, especially from some Republicans. Senator John McCain of Arizona called it a sad setback for the United States. Some of the GOP presidential candidates call it a failure by the Obama administration.

Scott Holcomb is a democratic lawmaker in a Georgia House of Representatives. He's also a veteran of the Iraq war and Scott, what do you make of the Republicans' complaints about these decisions? They're saying that they're by pulling out all troops, it leaves Iraq vulnerable to Iran and that makes the U.S. more vulnerable to Iran as well.

SCOTT HOLCOMB (D), GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: I disagree. I actually think that the decision is the right decision and it's the right decision for three reasons. First, it's the right decision because this respects and honors an agreement that was made during the Bush administration to withdraw our troops by December 31st of this year.

Secondly it's the right decision because this puts the focus back on America where we need to do our own nation building, focus on our own development.

And third, it respects the will of the Iraqi people. For us to stay would be to say to the Iraqi people, we don't respect you. If you think back during the dark days of the Iraq war, President Bush would often say, America will sit down when the Iraqis stand up. The Iraqis have stood up. So now it's time for us to come home.

FEYERICK: You can't overlook the fact that the Iraqi folks said, no, you can't keep anybody here. The U.S. did want some U.S. forces to be able to look after the contractors, look after diplomats. There's still a U.S. presence there. But now they don't have the security and Iraq wouldn't give them a pass on what law dos or do not apply to U.S. troops. How does that factor in? They said, no, get out.

HOLCOMB: That was a sticking point. But we need to respect their sovereignty. I think it's the right decision for both the United States and for Iraq. And the folks that work there will still be protected. And Iraq is really coming together in terms of being a much more stable and secure country. So I think the president has made the right decision and one that furthers our national interest.

FEYERICK: As a vet yourself, this is one thing, you see a lot of guys who are going to come home, a lot of men and women, made it out safe. A lot of people didn't. Close to 4,600 people died in Iraq. Three times as many will come back with concussion, brain injuries. There's a huge human toll to this. And now we're sort of going away. Isn't that a little bit bittersweet?

HOLCOMB: I could see how some could characterize it as bittersweet. But I see it as a real success. The United States — we toughed it out. There were some days where this conflict did not look like it was ever going to work out. And the United States pulled back together, regrouped, rethought our policy, and ultimately it led to a much more stable and secure Iraq. That's something that I think should be celebrated.

Moreover, we've been there almost nine years. This war started on March 19th of 2003. I was there when it started. And so this isn't as if we're just cutting after a very short period of time. We've been there for almost a decade. And with respect to the sacrifices, there have been very real sacrifices that have been borne by our men and women of uniform. Some of my friends, they gave their lives in Iraq. And we all owe them such a debt of gratitude. And this decision to end the war is a recognition that we succeeded. It is a positive statement. And it's one that I think that we should actually celebrate as opposed to malign.

FEYERICK: Sure. At least you're bringing a huge number of troops back safely. And those that gave their lives, clearly everybody appreciated their sacrifice.

Scott Holcomb, thank you so much. We appreciate your joining us today.

HOLCOMB: Thank you. Appreciate it.



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