By James Robertson
James is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about James below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

President Obama’s recent announcement of an end to combat operations in Iraq signals a turning point in American operations there. A war which contributed to American students’ perceptions of American foreign policy will now enter a new stage focused on fortifying the young Iraqi government’s ability to protect and oversee its own people. While the latest round of terrorist attacks cast doubt upon the country’s ability to furnish its citizens with an environment of security, the newly revised U.S. diplomatic mission seeks to provide Iraqi security forces with the guidance and training they need to address future defense concerns.

Much rests upon this important point in Iraq’s progress towards a functioning democratic state. The costs of failure cannot be understated, a position the current administration intends to address by more than doubling the number of private security units in Iraq. This is a commitment that will likely be reflected by private investing, aid, and advocacy groups. The President also noted that Iraq must take control of its future by addressing its own problems. Historically, young people and students in particular have always served as a driving force for development in developing nations, and Iraq is no different.

Students will undoubtedly play an important role in Iraq’s transition to a democratic state. This presents an exciting opportunity for American students to engage and assist a foreign people in their work towards a self-governing society. American students will soon be presented with the chance to affect change in their world by assisting their counterparts in Iraq with the understanding and application of democratic ideals. The result of such an exchange of cultural and educational and values could contribute greatly to the establishment of a democratic peace in Iraq.

My name is James Robertson. I am currently studying Political Science and English at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The current American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan dominates foreign affairs and will undoubtedly shape American foreign policy for years to come. Accordingly, today’s students will play an important role in determining how relations with these two countries and the Middle East will proceed. Each of us has a voice and I believe it is our duty to stand up and speak out for democracy in these changing times.