Oops! What Obama says on Iraq conflicts with what Obama said on Iraq
By Andrew Malcolm
Posted 09:18 AM ET
When President George W. Bush ordered a U.S. troop surge into Iraq in 2007, Sen. B. Obama was adamantly opposed. In fact, he said the surge would only worsen sectarian strife.
From the first gleam in his eye of an Oval Office, Obama ran against any war in Iraq. For years he promised to pull U.S. troops out of any fighting in Iraq asap.
But when the Bush surge, in fact, did seize a military victory from the jaws of defeat, a President Obama was only too happy to claim credit in announcing the full withdrawal of every single American soldier by the end of 2011. Oh, look! That was only 10 months before he sought reelection.
When the Sunnis and Shiites hit the fan in 2014 and the geographic nation of Iraq was virtually erased by those ISIS Islamic extremists, Obama ordered a few air strikes Friday. But he wants everyone to understand now that it was Iraq's fault no U.S. troops remained there to stabilize the delicate democracy.
Obama is, of course, infamous for his convenient memory and prediction capabilities. If you like that president, you can keep that president.
But what did Obama say about U.S. troops in Iraq, when did he say it? And Joe Biden and others. And have they been consistent? Here's a brief collection of quotes from those days and more recently:
Joe Biden to Larry King, Feb. 10, 2010: "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."
Barack Obama, Oct. 21, 2011: "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....
"Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq -- tens of thousands of them -- will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home....We’ll partner with an Iraq that contributes to regional security and peace, just as we insist that other nations respect Iraq’s sovereignty.
"As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces....There will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq, and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant....Here at home, the coming months will be another season of homecomings.....I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, Oct. 21, 2011: "I respectfully disagree with President Obama. I feel all we have worked for, fought for, and sacrificed for is very much in jeopardy by today's announcement. I hope I am wrong and the president is right, but I fear this decision has set in motion events that will come back to haunt our country."
Obama, Aug. 7, 2014: "I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there....I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq."
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Aug. 8, 2012: "These are political gestures using military power. It looks to me as if a lot of this is internal U.S. politics to show we’re doing something....We have muddled thinking on what we're trying to achieve in Iraq, and so these pinprick strikes...if you're going to protect refugees, 50,000 people without water and food, you don't do two F/A-18 strikes on an artillery unit somewhere in the vicinity."
Obama, Aug. 9, 2014: "Ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq. The United States can’t do it for them,....The nature of this problem is not one that a U.S. military can solve. We can assist and our military obviously can play an extraordinarily important role in bolstering efforts of an Iraqi partner as they make the right steps to keep their country together, but we can’t do it for them....."
During his pre-vacation photo op Saturday, Obama was asked about his long-promised political decision to withdraw all American troops a year before the 2012 election, despite the tempting power vacuum that created in Iraqi politics and the region as a whole. As usual, this president blamed others. (Note our italics in his answer below.)
"Mr. President, do you have any second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq? And does it give you pause as the U.S. -- is it doing the same thing in Afghanistan?"
Obama, Aug. 9, 2014: "What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on 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. In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution....
"So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis were -- a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq.....So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong."