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Obama Didn't Lose Iraq

April 1, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

A decade ago President George W. Bush invaded Iraq. U.S. forces quickly triumphed. But that counted for little when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad last weekend seeking Iraqi assistance against Syria’s Bashar Assad. What Washington thinks doesn’t matter much in Baghdad these days.

Most Americans recognize that blame for the Iraq debacle lies with the Bush administration. It was a foolish, unnecessary war followed by a myopic, bungled occupation. No wonder Washington is finding benefits from its policy of being illusive at best.

Yet the leading cheerleaders for the war remain undaunted.

Responsibility for the Iraq debacle, from start to finish, lies with the Bush administration.”

Of course, even they acknowledge that there have been problems. For instance, the Hoover Institution’s Fouad Ajami, a prominent defender of intervention in Iraq, admitted that as U.S. troops came home Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the country’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.” Moreover, Ajami cited an Iraqi cabinet minister who observed that “With all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go in Iraq and you can’t find one building or project built by the U.S. government.”

National Review’s editors allowed that Maliki “has ruled as an authoritarian and Shia sectarian and has allied himself with Iran.” Moreover, “the promise of [Iraq’s early] elections, and of Iraq’s new democratic structures, hasn’t been fulfilled.”

The Wall Street Journal editors acknowledged that Maliki “has an authoritarian streak.” Moreover, opined the paper, “the Iraq war is a cautionary tale about the difficulty democracies have in sustaining lengthy military campaigns for any goal short of national survival.”

However, the Bush administration most assuredly was not to blame for such frustrated expectations. Rather, neoconservatives teach that everything is Barack Obama’s fault, including Iraq.

Yes, he came into the conflict late. Yes, he followed the Bush administration’s withdrawal timetable and honored his predecessor’s agreement with the Maliki government. Yes, he implemented the wishes of the majority of Americans.

But so what? He could have kept U.S. forces in Iraq.

Declared the Journal: “President Obama could have capitalized strategically on [Bush’s success] by negotiating a status of forces agreement that anchored the U.S. relationship to Iraq and provided a U.S. military bulwark against Iran.” Added the Journal, the president “could have struck a deal to station 10,000 or so …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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