Early U.S. Troop Pullout Seen in Favorable Light

San Diegans optismitic about Iraqis' handling of their own future

Reports that the Iraqi government is willing to see an early withdrawal of all U.S troops from its country are drawing a favorable early reaction in the San Diego area.

"That's totally on them, that's their decision," said Justin Rasmussen, a crew member aboard the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, during a streetside interview in Coronado.

"If they think they can handle themselves, let them handle themselves.  Doesn't hurt me.  Makes me come home earlier."

Although former President Bush signed an agreement in November to withdraw all U.S. troops by the end of 2011, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama made a campaign promise to bring back all combat troops within 16 months of taking office.

There is, however, lingering concern about dangers presented by suicide bombers, unrest among rival factions and outside aggressors.

"That's probably the big question now," says Don Thomas, a Coronado resident whose wife has a brother-in-law deployed with the Army in Iraq.  "Can they handle it?  And would it be a temporary thing, and then we'd be back over there?"

But retired Navy captain James Kelly, a military analyst who writes and lectures on global strategy concerns, says he believes Iraqi leaders and security forces are probably ready to manage the various challenges on their own.

"We may not always agree with the path they take," Kelly said in an interview in his Coronado home.  "But it's their country.  And we've gone all we can there.  We've given them an opportunity to govern themselves.

"They've had a free election, and I think they've made very rapid progress."

"There's been enough substantial infrastructure on the part of the U.S. and its allies that this would not precipitate a power vacuum," said Lorron Snell, a former foreign service officer interviewed during a visit to the Flying Leathernecks Museum near MCAS Miramar.  "and no one would have this initiative at this time, in my observation." 

Two military wives who asked not to be identified echoed those thoughts during interviews in a park near the Murphy Canyon military housing conflict.

"I believe if we could leave Iraq without dire consequences, that we should," said one of the wives as she watched her children climbing a nearby play structure.  "There are so many other issues that America should be working on ... I think that country can rebuild itself."

Added the second wife: "If they feel confident enough that they can take control of their own country, why not?  Why not get out?  Bring our troops home."

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