'He Said We Got No Guidance from the White House'
"What We Left Behind in Iraq" is explored by Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller, who quotes from an NPR interview with the New Yorker's Dexter Filkins, which ultimately boils down to three takeaways:
No matter what they said publicly -- because America bashing is as fashionable in the Middle East as it is inside the Obama White House and NPR's studios, "What the senior American military commanders told [Filkins] was that every single senior political leader, no matter what party or what group, including Maliki, said to them privately, we want you to stay."
So what's the problem?
And so then you turn to the White House and its like, well, what does the White House want? And so there were these long negotiations that went on for more than a year over, you know, will the Americans keep some troops here? And it’s fascinating because, you know, Maliki was saying one thing in private and one thing in public and then the White House was extremely ambivalent, the Obama White House. And I remember I spoke and I quote in my piece one of the American ambassadors at the time, James Jeffrey, and he said we got no guidance from the White House. So we would literally sit across Maliki and Maliki would say, you know, what do I got to sell to my people? How many troops do you guys want to leave here? And he said we had no answer for him because we didn’t get any guidance from the White House.
Bolding in the above passage by Matt Lewis, who goes on to note that Filkins added, "that part of the reason this ultimately didn’t happen — a completely understandable reason (as far as I’m concerned) — is that Iraq refused to grant American soldiers immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts."
Gee, how much arm-twisting would it have taken from -- to pull two names out of the blue at random -- Bush and Cheney, to get immunity for American soldiers?
Perhaps with a Hillary-esque "What difference does it make?" in her mind, Terry Gross of NPR goes on to ask Filkins, "Do you think it would’ve made a difference had we been able to keep 5,000 troops in Iraq?
Well, let's see. You've got Iran on one border of Iraq. And then there's Syria. As Michael Graham wrote late last August in the Boston Herald, during the Obama administration disastrous period of tripping the red line fantastic, imagine how US troops stationed in Iraq might have played in the Obama White House's decision making process:
More than 70 years after the start of World War II, America has 100,000 troops stationed at bases in Germany and Japan. More than 50 years after the cease-fire in Korea, we have nearly 30,000 American military stationed there.
But in Iraq, where we toppled Saddam just a decade ago and oversaw three national elections, there isn’t a single American combat soldier left. A fact President Obama has repeatedly celebrated.
Now imagine the world today — the exploding Egypt, sarin-gas Syria, bombs-in-Benghazi world — if Obama had treated Iraq the way America treated Germany, Japan and Korea. Imagine the Middle East with a fully functioning U.S. military base on the border of Iran and Syria, able to project power right on Bashar Assad and the ayatollahs’ doorsteps.
Alas, we can only imagine …
Syria, as bad as it is, isn’t even close to the greatest foreign policy failure of the Obama administration. It’s a symptom of Obama’s abandonment of the region. And the high (low?) point of that policy was Obama’s decision to abandon the moderate, pro-Western citizens of Iraq to the extremists.
Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will be viewed by history as one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of all time.
As Glenn Reynolds noted late last year, “Ideology required that the Iraq War be a failure, even if it needed a nunc pro tunc effort to make it so.”
And yes, we've seen this movie before.
Related: "Scarborough interrupts Stein to remind him that Ambassador Chris Stevens and the US diplomatic staff in Libya repeatedly warned the State Department about the situation in Benghazi. This was not an intelligence failure, but a leadership failure — brought on by the need to pretend that the Libya intervention was a smashing success instead of an abject and costly failure."