September 3, 2019

REALITY IS NOT BIDEN’S STRONG SUIT: ‘Ignoring reality’: Biden got it wrong on Iraq, Mattis says. “‘He was past the point where he was willing to entertain a ‘good idea.’ He didn’t want to hear more; he wanted our forces out of Iraq. Whatever path led there fastest, he favored. He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly.'”

Mattis winds up basically blaming Biden for the rise of ISIS, adding, “It would take many years and tens of thousands of casualties, plus untold misery for millions of innocents, to break ISIS’s geographic hold. All of this was predicted — and preventable.”

Related item here.

Plus: “Joe Biden’s Iraq Decisions Haunt Him in 2020,” DNC house organ the Atlantic claims:

The criticism tends to focus on Biden’s Senate vote for a resolution authorizing military force in Iraq, which George W. Bush used to justify his invasion. But his time leading Iraq policy during Barack Obama’s first term is more relevant to the present moment. Whoever wins the presidency in 2020 likely will confront a similar dilemma to the one Biden then faced: a lingering U.S. troop presence, a war-weary U.S. public, and an enemy that is down but not yet defeated.

This story begins in early 2009, after Obama swept into office promising to end the deeply unpopular war in Iraq. There were still 150,000 American soldiers in the country. The newly inaugurated president turned to his vice president and told him to bring the troops home. “We were sitting in the Oval Office one day and talking about [the troop presence], and Obama looked at Biden and said, ‘Joe, I think you should do this. We need sustained focus from the White House. You know Iraq better than anyone,’” Antony Blinken, Biden’s national security adviser, told me. “It was as simple as that.”

The gravity of that mission for a man who’d played a part in starting the war was apparent. Seventy-six senators, including 28 Democrats, had joined Biden in the fateful 2002 vote, but he bore special responsibility as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. (He claimed at the time that the authorization would avert war by pushing Saddam Hussein to let weapons inspectors into the country, and later argued that Bush had misused it.) In the years since the invasion, he’d traveled often to Iraq, building relationships with the war’s key players.

Biden threw himself into the mission. He chaired meetings and oversaw negotiations. By the end of 2011, the war was over, and the American troops had left. “He is the guy who oversaw the drawdown, in effect, on the political side, of U.S. forces from 150,000 to virtually zero,” Blinken told me.

Then it all went horribly wrong.

Unexpectedly.

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