June 13th, 2014

Let’s revisit our withdrawal from Iraq

To refresh your memory, this is how it went down in Iraq in 2011:

The U.S. had tried to extend the presence of our troops past Dec. 31 [2011]. Why did we fail?

The popular explanation is that the Iraqis refused to provide legal immunity for U.S. troops if they are accused of breaking Iraq’s laws…

But Mr. Maliki and other Iraqi political figures expressed exactly the same reservations about immunity in 2008 during the negotiation of the last Status of Forces Agreement. Indeed those concerns were more acute at the time…So why was it possible for the Bush administration to reach a deal with the Iraqis but not for the Obama administration?

Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not. Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The administration didn’t even open talks on renewing the Status of Forces Agreement until this summer, a few months before U.S. troops would have to start shuttering their remaining bases to pull out by Dec. 31. The previous agreement, in 2008, took a year to negotiate.

The recent negotiations were jinxed from the start by the insistence of State Department and Pentagon lawyers that any immunity provisions be ratified by the Iraqi parliament—something that the U.S. hadn’t insisted on in 2008 and that would be almost impossible to get today. In many other countries, including throughout the Arab world, U.S. personnel operate under a Memorandum of Understanding that doesn’t require parliamentary ratification. Why not in Iraq? Mr. Obama could have chosen to override the lawyers’ excessive demands, but he didn’t.

He also undercut his own negotiating team by regularly bragging—in political speeches delivered while talks were ongoing—of his plans to “end” the “war in Iraq.” Even more damaging was his August decision to commit only 3,000 to 5,000 troops to a possible mission in Iraq post-2011. This was far below the number judged necessary by our military commanders…

The Iraqis knew about these estimates: U.S. military commanders had communicated them directly to Iraqi leaders…

When the White House then said it would consent to no more than 5,000 troops—a number that may not even have been able to adequately defend itself, much less carry out other missions—the Iraqis understandably figured that the U.S. wasn’t serious about a continued commitment. Iraqi political leaders may have been willing to risk a domestic backlash to support a substantial commitment of 10,000 or more troops. They were not willing to stick their necks out for such a puny force. Hence the breakdown of talks.

Please read the whole thing.

In typical Obamite fashion, Obama wanted to give the semblance of trying while actually undermining what ought to have been his own efforts. That way he could blame the Iraqis for what he’d always wanted to do anyway: completely withdraw.

And why would he want a complete withdrawal? Placate the base, of course. The negotiations were concluded a mere year before the 2012 election. Obama didn’t care what happened to Iraq or the Iraqis, it was all about fulfilling his promise to leave that country, and he was very impatient to do so.

Of course, back when he was campaigning for his first term, he didn’t state it exactly that way (from a speech given by Obama in July of 2008; emphasis mine):

As President, I will pursue a tough, smart and principled national security strategy…I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly [note this is his #1 goal in making America safer]; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century…

True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future – a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.

To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we’ll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq’s Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.

I strongly doubt he even meant what he said back when he said it. It was just stuff to say that sounded good. Whether you believe Obama is actually pro-jihadi, or whether you just believe he doesn’t mind Iraq turning into a cesspool because Obama can then blame the whole thing on Bush is almost irrelevant at this point. The effect is the same.

The Iraq War had to be discredited because the left’s entire philosophy would be threatened by a Bush success. Obama has always known this, and as president he was in a position to bring it about.

13 Responses to “Let’s revisit our withdrawal from Iraq”

  1. Mr. Frank Says:

    All of Obama’s statements have an expiration date.

  2. Bill West Says:

    Among the first on the “blame Bush” bandwagon is Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/06/iraq-extremists-mosul-american-invasion-legacy.html

  3. Ray Says:

    Same thing happened in Vietnam. Nixon successfully ended the war so the democrats, who hated Nixon, gave everything away to the communists. In 1975 the democrat controlled congress cut funding to our allies in SE Asia. Chris Dodd told congress that the Cambodians would be better off under Pol Pot. What he really meant was the Cambodians would be deader off under Pol Pot.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Ray:

    Please see this.

  5. jack Says:

    “Or, worse yet, are we doomed to a generational fight with people who love death more than they love life, and who despise our way of life? Will we be forced to play Islamic terrorist whack-a-mole across the Middle East? And if so, at what cost?”

    What Obama and all our political leaders around the world does not understand is the answer to this is … YES! Not only generational but until these people (muslim world) decides they have had enough. That would mean denouncing the Islamic war doctrine sanctioned by Quran. How can they do that and still have Islam?

  6. kaba Says:

    Mr. Churchill’s “A Gathering Storm” is about due a re-read at this point.

  7. KLSmith Says:

    Obama will go down in history as one of our most successful presidents. He will have transformed this nation just like he promised. His second term is all gravy.

  8. Richard Saunders Says:

    I never thought I’d see the helicopters on the roofs again. There’s no overestimating the evil, corruption, and degeneracy of this President and his gang.

  9. RickC Says:

    Richard,

    Barack Obama is so blinded by ideology, he has no ability to learn from past mistakes. That is true of both his mistakes and others mistakes.

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    Don’t underestimate the Left. There’s nothing they can’t do, helicopters or not.

  11. Eric Says:

    Neo,

    More for the pile, from 2012:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/world/middleeast/failed-efforts-of-americas-last-months-in-iraq.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obama-ad-takes-romney-remarks-on-iraq-and-afghanistan-out-of-context/2012/10/23/bd6ba8b2-1d4d-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_blog.html

    http://www.the-american-interest.com/blog/2012/09/24/even-msm-beginning-to-notice-obamas-middle-east-failures/

  12. Beverly Says:

    I think we all have a pretty good bead on our domestic enemies and their natures, and the nature of the destruction they’re visiting on America and our efforts around the world.

    Now, what do we do about it? How can we lay the axe to the root of their tree?

  13. Don Carlos Says:

    Never never never believe anything the Emir Hussein al-Hawaii says. It is all taqqiya. Watch his deeds, you unbelievers, and obey. It is the will of Allah.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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