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


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