On Thursday, Dec. 15, a ceremony was held in Iraq to officially end the U.S. military’s mission there. In an article in the Finger Lakes Times on Friday, Dec. 16, Associate Professor of Political Science Vikash Yadav and Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman are quoted about this mission.
“I think it’s good that we are leaving, but I’m not sure what the scenario will look like once we do leave,” Yadav said. “We’re leaving a country that is pretty devastated.”
“You are happy on the one hand that it’s over, but I don’t think the Democrats want to call attention to it any more than the Republicans,” Deutchman noted.
Yadav’s work is in the field of international relations with specializations in international political economy, comparative political economy and political theory. Regionally, his work focuses on the economies of South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from DePauw University, a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania.
A member of the HWS faculty since 1987, Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics.
The full article follows.
The Finger Lakes Times
U.S. out of Iraq
Locals react to end of war, removal of American Troops
Mike Hibbard • December 16, 2011
Like many of his colleagues, Vikash Yadav isn’t sure what the future holds for Iraq, but he agrees the time is right for U.S. troops to end their mission there.
“I think it’s good that we are leaving, but I’m not sure what the scenario will look like once we do leave,” said Yadav, a professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “We’re leaving a country that is pretty devastated.”
Yesterday, the U.S. military officially ended its mission in Iraq with a businesslike closing ceremony in a fortified compound at the Baghdad airport. The flag used by U.S. forces in Iraq was lowered and boxed up in a 45-minute ceremony.
With that, and some brief words from top American officials who flew in under tight security still necessary because of the ongoing violence in Iraq, the U.S. drew the curtain on a war that left 4,500 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis dead.
“You will leave with great pride, lasting pride,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the troops seated in front of a small domed building in the airport complex, “secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to begin a new chapter in history.”
In 2003, when U.S. and allied ground forces entered the country and later captured Saddam Hussein, Yadav was in the process of moving to nearby Egypt.
“It was a very troubling decision to go to war, and we knew we were moving to a region when it would be a very difficult time to be there,” he said.
Yadav and another political science professor at HWS, Iva Deutchman, said they aren’t surprised at the low key nature of the war’s end.
“You are happy on the one hand that it’s over,” Deutchman said, “but I don’t think the Democrats want to call attention to it any more than the Republicans.”
While some people believe Iraq is in worse shape now than before U.S. troops went in, Army Maj. Anthony Struzik Jr. doesn’t agree. The 1989 Waterloo High graduate served two tours there, in 2003 and ’07.
“I think it’s a good thing we are pulling out, but our mission there was a success,” stated Struzik, who is an adjutant for the 411th Engineering Brigade in New Windsor, Orange County. “I think we’re starting to see some of the effects of our work, and by the large the Iraqi people view us as allies, not enemies.”
Struzik said when his first tour in Iraq ended in 2004, the insurgency was just starting.
“Back in 2003, when we went in, we had the impression it was going to be a quick thing and we would be out of there,” he said. “That wasn’t the case.”
Struzik’s unit will be heading to Afghanistan in the spring, but he considers his time in Iraq well spent.
“I think it was a positive experience. To see some of the tactics that al-Qaeda used, and their bullying, I don’t think many people are aware of that,” he said. “They did some awful things to the Iraqi people. As of Thursday, there were two U.S. bases and about 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq – a dramatic drop from the roughly 500 military installations and as many as 170,000 troops during the surge ordered by President George W. Bush in 2007. All U.S. troops are slated to leave Iraq by the end of the year, but officials are likely to meet that goal a bit before then.
Despite President Barack Obama’s earlier contention that all American troops would be home for Christmas, at least 4,000 forces will remain in Kuwait for a few months, at least. Those troops will help finalize the move out of Iraq, but could also be used as a quick reaction force if needed.
The conflict left another 32,000 Americans and far more Iraqis wounded, drained more than $800 billion from America’s treasury and soured a majority of Americans on a war many initially supported as a justified extension of the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“It’s not like we went in and did something positive and now we can look at it and say it’s wonderful over there,” Deutchman said. “It’s not a win by any means. It’s not like World War II. It’s more like Vietnam.”
Yadav said the focus now turns to Afghanistan, where Obama has targeted 2014 for a pullout of U.S. troops.
“Again, this is another situation where we will be pulling out but have not resolved the situation,” he said. “I think the end game is going to be very difficult for the people of Afghanistan.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.