-President Obama interviewed on 60 Minutes last Sunday
President Obama once again takes credit for something that he deserves zero credit for: The “end” of the war in Iraq. That “war” (or insurgency), for the most part, ended on Bush’s watch, post-surge and Awakening successes. The hard decision which made conditions for troop withdrawal possible- and the one which then senator Obama opposed- was made by President Bush:
the president of the United States decided to go for broke. Despite national sentiment against the war, despite condemnation on Capitol Hill, President George W. Bush ordered more than 21,000 additional troops to war-a gamble that may be a pivotal moment for his presidency and the country.
The Status of Forces Agreement was also negotiated between President Bush and the Iraqi government. Not by President Obama (who may have tried, as presidential candidate, to have the Iraqi government delay negotiating and signing until after the 2008 Election). What he did accomplish was a failure to renegotiate the Agreement, as intended.
Will he accept responsibility for his irresponsibility or push his mishandling of Iraq upon his predecessor (who can no longer make the big decisions, based upon current conditions on the ground) for bringing us there in the first place? Neil Snyder at American Thinker:
his claim that he ended the war in Iraq contradicts the reality on the ground. Iraq is still at war and is coming unglued, and it’s largely due to the fact that the U.S. got out of Iraq before the job was finished. Christians are being persecuted en masse; Sunni and Shia Muslims are killing each other almost daily; and Iran is steadily increasing its influence in Iraq. So the truth is that President Obama didn’t end the war in Iraq. He simply abandoned Iraq’s leaders and forced them to fend for themselves.
Has Obama fulfilled his most famous national security campaign commitment from 2008: to end the Iraq war “more responsibly” than he says we began it? According to this excerpt from Michael Gordon’s new book on Iraq, the answer may well turn out to be no.
Gordon is considered by many to be the best reporter on the Iraq war and his long-awaited book is likely to shed new light particularly on the last half-decade of U.S. involvement. The excerpt in Sunday’s New York Times covers the Obama administration’s failed effort to negotiate terms for the long-planned-for stay-behind military force. The Obama administration is understandably reluctant to talk about these efforts much, and nowadays when the president mentions Iraq he makes it sound like he never considered anything other than withdrawing all but a handful of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. However, if that was what the president secretly intended all along, it was not what the administration was officially pursuing for the first several years when it tried, unsuccessfully, to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement.
The picture is not very pretty. Gordon documents:
A president unable to engage in effective personal diplomacy at crunch time because he had failed to invest in the hard work of retail diplomacy along the way. This is a problem that extends well past Iraq, as another blockbuster New York Times story makes clear. As an unnamed U.S. diplomat told the NYT: “He’s not good with personal relationships; that’s not what interests him…But in the Middle East, those relationships are essential. The lack of them deprives D.C. of the ability to influence leadership decisions.” A team whose wild over-confidence contributed to the failure to react in a timely manner to an unraveling situation. In one of the most devastating items in the piece, Gordon quotes Vice President Biden: “I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA,” he added, referring to the Status of Forces Agreement the Obama administration hoped to negotiate.” A team paralyzed by infighting and poisonous civil-military relations. Gordon reports that Thomas Donilon, Obama’s national security advisor, criticized Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for presenting military advice that ran counter to what the White House wanted to hear. ~~~
The closer one looks at the facts, the less they seem to support the campaign spin of a “responsible” end to a troubled war.
Iraq’s current quagmire is happening on President Obama’s watch. It should be marked as a part of his presidential legacy.
President Obama blames President Bush on starting the “dumb war“, while riding the success coattails of its conclusion in the twilight year of his predecessor’s presidency.
The real narrative isn’t that he was responsible for ending the war in Iraq. The real narrative is that he bungled the hard-won gains made by others; and fumbled the ball:
Further article of interest:
Why the U.S. should support Mithal Alusi and Kurdistan