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Iraq - A History Lesson

Today, President Obama announced his plan to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. This monumental decision marks a historic moment in our new President's foreign policy agenda and I applaud his efforts to responsibly complete the withdrawal. Clearly President Obama has learned from the history lesson of errors provided by the former administration. The President has repeatedly stated that he wants to end the war responsibly. However, the larger question is: will the President take a note from our larger and older history and realize that part of that responsibility must include protecting the democratic, human and civil rights of the Kurdish people.

As the United States troops withdraw from Iraq, we must remember the history of America's experiment with democracy. The Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution offer a blueprint. Despite noblest intentions, however, all citizens of the United States were not originally free and protected by these original documents. People of color and women were prevented from fully participating in government. It took the United States 75 years to make an amends to this issue by passing the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and another 100 years to fully realize the laws outlined therein. It is imperative that we do not repeat these mistakes in Iraq with the Kurds.

The Kurds have been victims of oppression for two millennium. During the last thirty to forty years they were subjected to Arabization, concentration camps, mass executions, and attack by chemical weapons. We must protect the Kurds because Iraq is a giant legacy project for our country, whether we like it or not. It will affect America negatively, affect President Obama negatively, and further damage our standing in the developing and Muslim worlds if we abandon the Kurds. We cannot as a nation accept the responsibility of establishing a system for freedom without ensuring that those who need it most are provided the protection to use it.

The President has promised to take a comprehensive diplomatic approach as we transition out of Iraq, working with all countries of the region. He can truly jump-start this campaign by securing the rights of the Kurdish people. This is a history lesson we cannot afford to fail.

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