Most Read
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

On “Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq”

On “Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq”

“The gains of the surge are now in jeopardy …” – Aymenn al-Tamimi, in the Washington Post

When President Obama first took office, he promised to responsibly end the war in Iraq.  Now, several years later, the result appears far different than that vision.

On my first full day in office, I directed my national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of our strategy in Iraq to determine the best way to strengthen that foundation, while strengthening American national security. I have listened to my Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and commanders on the ground. We have acted with careful consideration of events on the ground; with respect for the security agreements between the United States and Iraq; and with a critical recognition that the long-term solution in Iraq must be political – not military. Because the most important decisions that have to be made about Iraq’s future must now be made by Iraqis.

President Barack Obama – Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq – February 27, 2009 (emphasis mine)

The second failure was the SOFA itself. The military recommended nearly 20,000 troops, considerably fewer than our 28,500 in Korea, 40,000 in Japan, and 54,000 in Germany. The president rejected those proposals, choosing instead a level of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.

A deployment so risibly small would have to expend all its energies simply protecting itself — the fate of our tragic, missionless 1982 Lebanon deployment — with no real capability to train the Iraqis, build their U.S.-equipped air force, mediate ethnic disputes (as we have successfully done, for example, between local Arabs and Kurds), operate surveillance and special-ops bases, and establish the kind of close military-to-military relations that undergird our strongest alliances.

Charles Krauthammer – Who lost Iraq? – November 3, 2011 (emphasis mine)

James F. Jeffrey, who was the United States ambassador in Baghdad when the last American troops left in December 2011, said that Iraqi forces had performed poorly and that it was clear their skills had deteriorated now that the American troops training them were gone.

“This is the first example I have seen that the absence of American troops that would have provided tactical training has had an impact on the battlefield,” said Mr. Jeffrey, who is now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The New York Times – Brazen Attacks at Prisons Raise Fear of Al Qaeda’s Strength in Iraq – July 24, 2013 (emphasis mine)

The jailbreak coincided with a relentless wave of bombings blamed on al-Qaeda. The bombings have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians in recent months, bringing back levels of violence not seen since U.S. troops surged into Iraq in 2007 in a bid to reverse the bloodshed and to assert Iraqi government control.

The gains of the surge are now in jeopardy, said Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow with the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum who monitors extremist activity in Iraq and Syria.

The Washington Post – Al-Qaeda branch in Iraq claims jailbreak – July 24, 2013

DONATE

Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.

Comments

BannedbytheGuardian | July 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

I feel very sad for all the western forces who died , injured physically or mentally in this hellhole for absolutely nothing.

This is just another example of what happens when the political class conducts a war instead of the military. The list of failed adventures is long and bloody, starting with Korea and ending for now in Afghanistan.

VetHusbandFather | July 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

Having been there for Transition of Authority in 2008-2009, frankly I’m surprised Iraq has remained stable as long as it has.

The U.S. was obligated by agreement to leave Iraq. The mistake was the original occupation.

stevewhitemd | July 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

The occupation was not a mistake, nor was it a mistake to remove the genocidal thug Saddam Hussein. Zachriel, above, apparently has not learned history: thugs don’t stop being what they are until somebody stops them.

The mistakes were two: first in being heavy-handed in our initial occupation. That was corrected at great cost, but it was corrected as part of the “surge”. Our forces learned to listen to the Iraqis and treat innocent Iraqis with respect. We reverted to ‘small war’ tactics and it worked.

The second mistake was fundamental: we didn’t have the heart and moral courage to stick it out. It took a generation to rebuild Japan and Germany. Each of those countries already had an educational and technological base to use in that rebuilding, and each had a citizenry that considered itself a nation. It took us almost two generations to help South Korea rebuild after that war because of the lack of education and the lack of cohesiveness in the people. It might have taken us two generations to rebuild Iraq: had we done so we could have indeed looked forward to a democratic, reasonable ‘Federal Republic of Iraq’ that would have looked a fair bit like Korea today.

But we didn’t have the vision and courage to see that, so we bugged out. The current leaders of Iraq look like some of the Korean leaders of the mid- to late-1950s, and without us there the country very likely will either fall apart or go look for a ‘strong man’.

I just thankful that Obama wasn’t POTUS back in 1945 – 1947.

If by some chance (A wrong one at that!), Henry Wallace, a 1940’s version of BHO, had remained as FDR’s VP, would there even be a democratically organized Federal Germany today, or a westernized Europe either?

stevewhitemd: thugs don’t stop being what they are until somebody stops them.

Saddam was defanged. He didn’t even control all his own territory, much less pose a strategic threat outside his borders.

stevewhitemd: The occupation was not a mistake, nor was it a mistake to remove the genocidal thug Saddam Hussein.

Of course it was a mistake. The U.S. administration allowed ideology to control their policy to disastrous effect. Tens of thousands died, millions were made refugees, and entire regions were ethnically cleansed. The war fractured American alliances, and strengthened Iran’s influence in the region.

Furthermore, the U.S. claimed they invaded because Iraq was pursuing WMD, which simply wasn’t the case. This undermined the U.S. strategic position in a number of ways, particularly by calling into question American integrity and competence. The U.S. set up what is essentially a majoritarian Shiite government, which has used its position of power over the Sunni minority. There’s no easy solution from the outside to resolve that issue. Continued U.S. involvement would not have solved the underlying problem.

    Humphreys Executor in reply to Zachriel. | July 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    To the extent Saddam was “defanged” it was in large part by the no fly zones. To maintain the no fly zones, we had to base aircraft and personnel in Saudi Arabia. Bin laden cited our presence in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq, as reasons for jihad against the US. This resulted in attacks on Khobar Towers, the embassy attackes, the USS Cole, and of course 911 So keeping Saddam “defanged” was a huge headache. Plus, he wasn’t completely fangless. After 911 he paid bounties to families of suicide bombers in Israel. Removing him solved alot of problem. The left always focuses only on the WMD. There was much much more.

The way to responsibly end any war is to WIN.

One can end a war at any time by LOSING. Yet one might not like what happens thereafter.

Dr P: The way to responsibly end any war is to WIN.

Mission Accomplished!
http://firechilly.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/mission-accomplished.jpg

‘As explained by Cmdr. Conrad Chun, a Navy spokesman, “The banner was a Navy idea, the ship’s idea… The banner signified the successful completion of the ship’s deployment,” Cmdr. Chun continued noting that the Abraham Lincoln was deployed 290 days, longer than any other nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history.’

Just about everything that the anointed one has touched has turned to crap. I’ve heard of the reverse Midas touch before that this guy has exceed such by incalculable numbers.

It’s astonishing that “we” elected this empty suit twice!

He’s just another reason that I demand NO MORE UNDECLARED WARS!

What a disgusting bucket of hog vomit…

    GrumpyOne: Just about everything that the anointed one has touched has turned to crap. I’ve heard of the reverse Midas touch before that this guy has exceed such by incalculable numbers.

    Bush falsely started a war claiming Iraq had WMD, followed by one of the worst military debacles in modern history. He used torture. He failed to capture the mastermind behind 9-11. Finally, he oversaw the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Obama is the worst U.S. president since the last one.

      ESM in reply to Zachriel. | July 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      “Bush falsely started a war claiming Iraq had WMD…”

      Almost everybody believed Iraq was developing WMDs, including, possibly, Saddam Hussein himself. In any case, what really matters is that Iraq retained the capability to develop WMDs, and with the inevitable collapse of the sanctions regime, it is quite likely Saddam would have restarted his WMD programs. Without the Iraq war, it’s possible we could be looking at a general nuclear arms race in the Middle East, with both Iran and Iraq having them and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Syria developing them.

      “…followed by one of the worst military debacles in modern history…”

      You’re obviously not a student of military history. Any and all screw-ups in Iraq (minor as they were, relatively) were on the front pages of every newspaper. Not that long ago, these screw-ups would have been covered up. Search for Exercise Tiger on Wikipedia. Bet you never heard of that one.

      “He used torture.”

      Torture is used everywhere, even by your local police. At least Bush was willing to take some responsibility for it instead of blaming it on rogue subordinates.

      “He failed to capture the mastermind behind 9-11.”

      Bush did a good job taking apart Al Qaeda. That bin Laden wasn’t killed on his watch doesn’t mean anything. Most of the hard ground work was done during Bush’s administration (including the use of torture, by the way).

      “Finally, he oversaw the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression.”

      Wasn’t his fault or any one person’s. But Bush did do a pretty good job of stanching the bleeding. It was Obama who dropped the ball on the recovery by “never letting a crisis go to waste.”

        ESM: Almost everybody believed Iraq was developing WMDs, including, possibly, Saddam Hussein himself.

        No. Saddam was quite aware of his capabilities. There is documentary evidence that Saddam knew he didn’t have WMD, that Iraq had lost track of munitions during the war with Iran, and that they were desperate to convince the inspectors that the weapons had been destroyed. Iraq was substantially in compliance with U.N. resolutions on weapons.

        ESM: Without the Iraq war, it’s possible we could be looking at a general nuclear arms race in the Middle East, with both Iran and Iraq having them and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Syria developing them.

        Iraq didn’t have a nuclear program.

        ESM: Search for Exercise Tiger on Wikipedia.

        Exercise Tiger was a blunder, but not a strategic blunder with wide implications.

        There are all sorts of avoidable blunders with strategic implications if you go back; Teutoburg Forest, Agincourt, Pickett’s Charge, Hitler’s invasion of Russia, etc.

        Tuchman’s March of Folly examines several cases where a nation will pursue a course of action against their own best self-interest.

        ESM: Torture is used everywhere, even by your local police.

        Rather hypocritical of the Americans to push to end torture, punish their enemies for torture, then use torture themselves. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

        ESM: Bush did a good job taking apart Al Qaeda.

        The Bush Administration became consumed by Iraq. However, they did have some success in disrupting al Qaeda.

        ESM: Wasn’t his fault or any one person’s.

        He had the responsibility and opportunity to mitigate the bubble, but they didn’t because they had ideological blinders. In the words of Greenspan, “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,”

          ESM in reply to Zachriel. | July 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

          “Iraq didn’t have a nuclear program.”

          It could have been restarted at any time. Iraq had the technological capability, which mostly resided in the minds of their scientists and technicians. If I were the dictator of Iraq, I would have restarted the nuclear program as soon as the sanctions regime collapsed. I suspect Saddam was no less ruthless than I am.

          “…but not a strategic blunder with wide implications.”

          And how was the Iraq war a strategic blunder? There’s a plausible counterfactual which is pretty scary, as I mentioned. I suppose the unpopularity of the war facilitated the rise of Obama to the presidency, so in that sense, the consequences have been damaging to the our long-term interests.

          “Rather hypocritical of the Americans to push to end torture…”

          Yes, hypocrisy. To the liberal mind, that’s one of the worst sins, isn’t it? Thank goodness we now have a president who won’t capture and torture suspected terrorists, which would be contrary to our professed ideals. He just kills them instead, along with any innocent bystanders.

          “He had the responsibility and opportunity to mitigate the bubble, but they didn’t because they had ideological blinders.”

          The bubble and its collapse was not really the problem. It was the government’s response to the collapse that was, and that was on Obama (Bush likely would have done better since his response to the tech bubble collapse was picture perfect). I refer you to http://www.moslereconomics.com to learn more, specifically the e-book “Seven Deadly Innocent Economic Frauds.”

          ESM: It could have been restarted at any time. Iraq had the technological capability, which mostly resided in the minds of their scientists and technicians.

          Actually, it’s quite an large industrial undertaking to refine uranium or produce plutonium. Iran is a much larger country, with a more advanced economy, yet they have only now come close to that level of technology.

          ESM: And how was the Iraq war a strategic blunder?

          It distracted the U.S. from Afghanistan and from the fight against international terrorism, allowing terrorism to metastasize. It fractured U.S. alliances. It disheartened America’s friends. It strengthened Iran. It allowed America’s enemies to learn the limits of American power and understand its weaknesses. It drained the U.S. economy.

          Not to mention, the occupation left thousands of Iraqis dead, millions as refugees, the infrastructure of the country in ruins, a dysfunctional majoritarian government, and persistent sectarian violence.

          The key to great military power if flexibility; that is, the ability to strike when and where it likes. The Romans had roads; the Mongols the Steppes; the British the seas. The Americans controlled the air. But when you get bogged down, you lose your mobility, and it allows the enemy to study you, showing everyone the limits of your power.

          ESM: Yes, hypocrisy. To the liberal mind, that’s one of the worst sins, isn’t it?

          Jesus could countenance prostitutes, adulterers, Roman oppressors, even, gasp, tax collectors. He couldn’t countenance hypocrites. Consider it one of our peccadilloes too.

          ESM: The bubble and its collapse was not really the problem.

          Of course the bubble was the problem, and if it had been addressed before it collapsed, there could have been a soft landing. Instead, the Bush Administration egged it on, not recognizing the danger until it was too late.

      Humphreys Executor in reply to Zachriel. | July 26, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Historical Note: US forces occasionally used waterboarding during the Philippine Insurrection circa 1900 to 1913. TR condemned such “mild torture” but understood it. Its easy to criticize from the sidelines what the people we hire to protect us do to protect us. They are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Waterboarding is harsh, buts its not torture.

Doug Wright | July 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm

The phishing on LI must be pretty good today since we’ve been graced by a master troller who has used every ounce of phishing skill allowed, other then using dynamite sticks, to draw it all those large catches.

However, I do wonder who has been providing that master troller baiter with the Dhimmi talking points that person is using? Was it Huma or maybe Morsi or perhaps Assad the 2nd? Also, will we ever know who that person really is, before the “Rapture” happens?

WMD was the most-favored “reason” in the USG inter-agency arena for the Iraq campaign, as part of the broader War on Terror. Sadamn was a bad actor with multiple priors and needed to be taken out. More, the existing sanctions were collapsing, remember the oil for food debacle and the way Sadamn had debased all who came in contact, by giving “oil shares” to various, including Kofi’s son. BTW – the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I still believe as do many others who served in Iraq that there was (are remain) WMD, either buried there or transferred to Syria. Just why did Israel conduct Operation Orchard ? (look it up) Or, why did the US Military conduct Operation McCall, completed five years ago this month, the transhipment of 550MT of yellowcake from Iraq to Canada? (look it up).

Hell, just listen to these experts in their own words… did Iraaq have WMD? You bet your sweet donkey they did:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cwqh4wQPoQk

Huh. If the USG had left an appropriately sized residual force in Iraq–which the GoI wanted, they only had to be asked (I know, I was there), then the flood of insurgents into Syria, moving from Iraq, would not be occurring. Indeed, it is likely they Syria would not be undergoing civil war.

But what of the Iraq campaign? It was an ambitious effort on the Bush administration to “flip” the middle east from its legacy strongmen political framework (whether dictators-for-life, monarchies, theocracies or whathaveyou) to representative governments including popular participation. Iran started to flip, ask Neda how this administration’s support helped her and the other Iranians achieve an overthrow of the mullahs. And yet, this is just the opening that 43 sought. 44 threw it away, as he also threw away every other opening across the MENA.

43 set the conditions for 44’s success. What nobody counted upon was that 44 would rather fight against American citizens than America’s enemies.

    Sandy Daze: Or, why did the US Military conduct Operation McCall, completed five years ago this month, the transhipment of 550MT of yellowcake from Iraq to Canada? (look it up).

    That was legally owned by Iraq, and under U.N. seal. You would probably be surprised to find that Iraq never broke the seal.

    Sandy Daze: If the USG had left an appropriately sized residual force in Iraq–which the GoI wanted, they only had to be asked (I know, I was there), then the flood of insurgents into Syria, moving from Iraq, would not be occurring.

    Perhaps, but the Bush Administration had agreed with the Iraqi government to a withdrawal date, and the Iraqis wouldn’t agree to an extension.

    Sandy Daze: And yet, this is just the opening that 43 sought.

    Yes, the Iraqis have a parade every year down George W Bush Boulevard celebrating their liberation.

Put Simply: Barack Hussein Obama ABANDONED our Huge Victory in Iraq. He abandoned all that had been paid in blood. George Bush and David Petraeus and the our warriors were back-shot by a left wing moral coward. The aforementioned pathetic twit, Infantile Majesty.

Font Resize
Contrast Mode
Send this to a friend