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July 29, 2021 • 10:02 AM

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Blame Obama, Not Bush, for Today's Bloodbath in Iraq Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 14 2014
Obama's disastrous policy appears not merely negligent, but intentionally pursued for the political purpose of undermining current Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki.

The Obama Doctrine in Iraq has proven undeniably disastrous, threatening to permanently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

After inheriting a stabilizing Iraq in the aftermath of a Bush Administration troop surge (which Obama claimed in 2007 couldn't succeed), Obama's decisions have resulted in today's ghoulish genocide and deepening chaos.  Per habit, therefore, he now reverts to scapegoating others and pleading that he's little more than a helpless bystander to inconvenient world events.  This from a man who in 2011 practically claimed to have fired the shot that felled Osama bin Laden. 

Obama's responsibility, however, is confirmed by his own words.  Let us examine the record. 

"My first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war." 

That was Obama on July 3, 2008. 

"As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end, for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world...  A few hours ago, I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki...  We are in full agreement about how to move forward.  So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year...  The tide of war is receding." 

That was Obama on October 21, 2011. 

"We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq." 

That was Obama on December 14, 2011. 

"I've kept the commitments that I've made.  I told you we'd end the war in Iraq.  We did." 

That was Obama on June 24, 2012. 

"You know I say what I mean, and mean what I say.  I said I'd end the war in Iraq.  I ended it." 

That was Obama on November 4, 2012. 

Thus, in his own words, we see the Obama strategy in Iraq.  The solemn promise to withdraw all troops, the pronouncement of success in a placid democracy and the triumphant claim of responsibility for the troop withdrawal while seeking reelection. 

Moreover, Obama's assertions are confirmed by those of his own Vice President Joe Biden.  On February 10, 2010, Biden told CNN's Larry King that, "I am very optimistic about Iraq.  I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.  You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer, you're going to see a stable government in Iraq."  And on November 5, 2012, Biden proudly thundered, "We ended the war in Iraq." 

Today, Obama suddenly sings a different tune.  These were his words this week, when asked by a reporter whether he now regrets removing all U.S. troops from Iraq, and issuing the same order in Afghanistan: 

"What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps coming up, as if this was my decision.  Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically-elected Iraqi government.  So let's just be clear.  The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis, a majority of Iraqis, did not want U.S. troops there." 

Whatever one's current opinion of George W. Bush's order to remove Saddam Hussein from power in 2003, the fact is that his 2007 surge strategy proved successful and left Obama with a stabilized Iraq.  Since then, the situation has obviously deteriorated.   

Success has many fathers, as they say, but failure is an orphan.  Unfortunately for Obama, his denial of paternity is further undermined by other recent choices. 

In January of this year, Obama dismissed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a "junior varsity" operation, telling The New Yorker magazine that, "The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant."  It increasingly appears that if bin Laden was the Kobe Bryant of genocidal mayhem, then ISIS is Michael Jordan. 

In fact, Obama's disastrous policy appears not merely negligent, but intentionally pursued for the political purpose of undermining current Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki.  In an interview just last week, Obama admitted as much to Thomas Friedman of The New York Times

"The reason, the president added, 'that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.'  That would only have encouraged, he said, Maliki and other Shiites to think, 'We don't actually have to make compromises.  We don't have to make any decisions.  We don't have to go through the difficult process of figuring out what we've done wrong in the past.  All we have to do is let the Americans bail us out again.  And we can go about business as usual.'" 

Despite the obvious record, Obama and enablers such as Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post once again attempt to scapegoat his predecessor.  Would the current bloodshed in Iraq have occurred if we hadn't removed Saddam Hussein?  That's possible, but such a claim is rebutted by the fact that even more people have now been slaughtered in next-door Syria, where we obviously didn't intervene and strongman Bashar al-Assad remains in power. 

What we do know is that Bush's surge strategy succeeded, leaving a remarkably placid and improving situation in Iraq when Obama assumed office.  Since then, the situation has regressed due to policy reversals. 

And to the extent one seeks to place blame for that, the focus must be Obama, not Bush. 

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In what year did the Fidel Castro-led revolution overthrow the Cuban government of President Fulgencio Batista?
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