The Iraq blame game

With the news of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS] blazing a path through northern Iraq, the chattering class is again harping on the withdrawal of US forces in 2011. And predictably, the charges are rampant, that Obama “pulled the troops out early” and/or “refused to pursue a Status of Forces Agreement [SOFA]” with the Maliki regime.

Sadly for both talking points, the agreement reached between the Bush and Maliki negotiation teams, that stipulated US forces exit Iraq by Dec 31st, 2011….was a Status of Forces Agreement. It’s accurately titled the Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq.

During those negotiations, the Iraqi’s made it clear that “We will not accept any memorandum of understanding if it does not give a specific date for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops” BBC

Now, one could argue that the Bush Administration was simply having no luck in keeping US forces in country past 2011.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says no U.S. troops will be left in his country after 2011, calling the agreement for all American soldiers to leave by then “not subject to extension, not subject to alteration.” Politico

But then one is going to have to acknowledge the same luck for the succeeding Administration.

So the politically and media driven noise machine is forced to support ignorance of this fact, forced to suppress any questions as to why the Bush Administration couldn’t or wouldn’t extend the withdrawal date….just as it supports an enforced ignorance of the differences between terrorism and insurgency….and the various groups involved with either….so that servile, patriotic fervor can be whipped up for campaign season..and for issues such as this.

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36 thoughts on “The Iraq blame game

  1. I heard a conservative pundit, in blaming Obama for the situation in Iraq, use the “Iran won the war” expression as if it had just occurred to him, and he was born on January 20, 2008.

    There was never anything to “win” in Iraq.

    JMJ

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  2. Obama is to blame for a large part of the situation there, as he has been in charge of US policy there for more 5 years from now. Even if Bush gets most of the blame.

    It is pure partisanship and ignorance to say that Obama has no blame for the situation there now.

    Obama didn't start this fire, but for quite a while he let it burn, and even threw logs on it.

    As for what there was to “win”, Saddam Hussein was one of the world's major terrorist kingpins, and he had stockpiled hundreds of WMD and was seeking to gain and use more. It's not a bad thing that this situation is ended.

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  3. I didn't say that Obama was blameless, but we are seeing a cavalcade of doughy, tie-clad sycophants in the media, lying to the American public…claiming that Obama is at fault for a lack of US forces quasi-permanently stationed in Iraq. Obama carried out the Bush policy to the letter.

    Your characterization of Hussein is amusing to me. “Terrorist kingpin”? Odd moniker for one who gave sanctuary to MeK and sent gratuities to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. I have to wonder what you'd call ObL or al Baghdadi.

    Further….if only those 'hundreds of WMD's existed. All the 75th Exploitation Task Force and Iraq Survey Group found were small munitions past their shelf life and uranium yellowcake that was already inventoried and tagged by the IAEA.

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  4. “Obama carried out the Bush policy to the letter.”

    Which meant that he made the decision to endorse it and “carry on”. Especially after promising bold new directions and “change”. Remember, after Jan 2009, this policy became the Obama policy.

    Not an odd moniker at all. What about the other terrorist kingpins?

    “.if only those 'hundreds of WMD's existed.”

    I think in this your usually impeccable research falls flat, as you make a statement here that has nothing to do with the facts in Iraq. This is hardly a secret. “Nearly three years later [after 2004] American troops were still finding WMD in the region,.

    All of these munitions were expressly prohibited by the cease-fire, and Saddam made decision to hide them instead of turn them over immediately after the end of the Gulf War as required. There are many lies about what went on there. One of the biggest is that Saddam had no WMD.

    There was plenty of reason to order retaliation against this terrorist kingpin, ranging from his stockpiling large quantities of WMD to his targetting and firing on peacekeeping patrols in the “No Fly Zones” hundreds of times.

    But Bush went about it in a real ham-handed way. Will Hart has elsewhere described alternative ways of ending the terror and aggression which would have been much better than what happened, that are quite interesting.

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  5. “There's certainly some truth to the claim. We removed the regional counter-weight to Iran”

    We also removed a major exporter of terror and aggression to that region. I consider the invasion of Israel by Lebanon several years ago, and how much worse it would have been if Saddam had been around to weigh in on the side of the aggressors.

    Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who would have died otherwise had the socialist regime continued past 2003 (comparing the accurate Iraq body count to the an average death per year based on under Saddam's rule, applied to the same period).

    Fighting back was clearly justified and legal, but clearly Bush's bad ideas in doing so (which became Obama's bad ideas when our current lazy and indolent President endorsed them and chose to keep them) are very very problematic.

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  6. No sorry…I addressed the munitions that were found. Nothing remotely close to the fear-mongering of WMD used in the run up to the invasion. In addition to not finding the massive stockpiles of WMDs, we didn't discover the infrastructure support needed to assemble and maintain such a stockpile.

    Salient quote from your source: “Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.”

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  7. CI said: “No sorry…I addressed the munitions that were found.”

    Sorry, I was doing so, and those that were found are different from your claim.

    ” In addition to not finding the massive stockpiles of WMDs,”

    It is reasonable, in my opinion, to call the hundreds of WMD which are well documented to have been found to be “massive stockpiles”. Regardless of opinions on this large amount being “massive” or not, there is the fact that possession of any of these was a significant violation.

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  8. “Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.”

    I am quite well aware of that. And it acknowledges that these large WMD stockpiles were found, and were indeed WMD and stockpiles, even of smaller than supposed imaginary larger stockpiles.

    As for the grave danger of WMD's, it is selective to blame just Bush. There was a lot of speculation for years on the size of Saddam's WMD program, complicated by Saddam's refusal to allow the inspections he promised….yet another significant material cease-fire violation.

    Thus you get Clinton speaking of the grave danger posed by Saddam's WMD in 1998, before Bush was elected:

    “If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.”

    There are similar quotations from other Democratic leaders both before and after Bush was elected.

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  9. Surely a person who hosted and funded several terrorist groups, and also promised payments to families of terrorists who died killing Jews counts as a major export of terror. 9/11 taught us that it was folly to have an acceptable level of terrorist aggression.

    As for your failure of understanding, this is a well reasoned speculation that Saddam's Iraq could very easily have made much worse the 2006 aggression by Lebanon against Syria.

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  10. You might note from my original post, that I'm not levying a whole lot of blame on Bush, for the invasion of Iraq. Though I think it was an utter waste of resources and lives, when we should have been going after al Qaeda….I fully understand that our intelligence was wrong..and I don't really blame Bush for that. Though given that our primary sources were Iranian…that should have raised some further questions.

    You do however, do an admirable job in framing the narrative, to make both the alleged threat and actual size and number of WMD munitions, seem so utterly 'grave'.

    Perhas you and I have differing opinions of what defines 'large', 'stockpiles' and 'major'.

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  11. In summary to these comments: due to the fact of Saddam Hussein stockpiling large numbers of WMD (it's not a stretch to call the hundreds actuall found a “large” number) and his extensive promotion of terrorism, and his hundreds of attempts to murder innocent Americans after the Gulf War… all in violation of the cease fire, surely some sort of retaliation against this aggression was quite warranted.

    But I will agree that the way it was done, was to say the least, dodgy.

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  12. “Perhas you and I have differing opinions of what defines 'large', 'stockpiles' and 'major'.

    I think it is less a matter of opinion and one of fact to determine that hundreds of a specific weapon is large/stockpiles/major.

    But regardless, Saddam Hussein wasn't even supposed to have any.

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  13. Well, understanding terror groups is a key component of my profession, so you'll excuse me if I disagree with your characterization of any relationship Saddam's Iraq could or would have had with Lebanese Hezbollah. And please decide between Israel or Syria.

    This does however highlight the convenience of using ill defined and subjective framing terms.

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  14. “You do however, do an admirable job in framing the narrative, to make both the alleged threat and actual size and number of WMD munitions, seem so utterly 'grave'”

    You misread. Scroll back. “Grave” was your word, and I presented a quote from Clinton that, in my view, fit in with that idea. “Grave” was not my claim, or view. Mine is that the (objectively) large (objectively) stockpiles of (objectively) WMD were one of several significant and aggressive violations of the cease-fire agreement by Saddam Hussein. Agreements which allowed him to retain no “stockpiles” of any size.

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  15. dmarks, reading through, I can honestly say, there's nothing you've written here that is true with the exception of your last sentence. I just don't understand how you can regurgitate lies like that.

    CI, it is true that “Iran won the war” and people like me were warning about that before we ever invaded. It seemed pretty damned obvious.

    JMJ

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  16. Of course, it would be kinda of funny – in a tragic way – to see Iran get stuck with this mess. From one religious idiot who thought God wanted to him start a war, to another religious idiot who thinks God wants him to start a war.

    JMJ

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  17. In summary to these comments: due to the fact of Saddam Hussein stockpiling large numbers of WMD (it's not a stretch to call the hundreds actuall found a “large” number) and his extensive promotion of terrorism, and his hundreds of attempts to murder innocent Americans after the Gulf War… all in violation of the cease fire, surely some sort of retaliation against this aggression was quite warranted.

    But I will agree that the way it was done, was to say the least, dodgy.

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  18. CI: Saddam's Iraq was quite focused on killing Jews, and if Lebanon's 2006 war against Israel had expanded into a larger regional war, Saddam's participation (jumping in to kill more Israelis) would have made it much much worse. Yes, I know this is speculation. No need to “grill” me on a connection between Saddam and Hezbollah which I never claim existed.

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  19. ” From one religious idiot who thought God wanted to him start a war,”

    If Bush thought he was starting a war in Iraq, he was an idiot indeed. Fact is the war was well underway before Bush took office. The fact (sorry, JMJ) of Saddam attacking innocent American and British peacekeepers hundreds of times, and escalations such as large scale US bombing campaigns against Saddam's WMD facilities by Clinton does not “peace” make. Bush sharply escalated the US involvement, but he did not start this one.

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  20. Jersey: All of what I described is very well documented. The last sentence is an opinion. You can't refute any of it, as the situation of the no-fly zones, the hundreds of WMD (“large stockpile” or not) found, and the specific names of the terrorist groups promoted, hosted, and funded, are all very very well known. There was not a lie to be found from me.

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  21. You're correct, it's not a stretch to call the found WMDs 'large', if it were, say one or two tactical exploitation sites…but in reference to the pre-invasion spin, seven years of occupation and 4500 lives later……the level of retaliation does not measure.

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  22. “You're correct, it's not a stretch to call the found WMDs large”

    That's one of JMJ's claims of lies shot down, again.

    “but in reference to the pre-invasion spin, seven years of occupation and 4500 lives later……the level of retaliation does not measure.”

    I agree you have an excellent point… which I agree with. It was handled wrong, and has been a big mess. I think “Rummy” was awful.

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  23. Jersey, if you wish, I can provide extensive evidence of the ongoing war in Iraq prior to March 2003, from neutral sources. If that is, you are interested in the facts. Your resorting to ad hominem gives evidence that you are not. But maybe you had a bad day yesterday. I will give you the benefit of a doubt now.

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