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MUST READ: “How Obama Lost Iraq and Allowed ISIS to Bloom”


by Keith Koffler

President Obama is playing his customary Blame Bush card, trying to heave the Iraq catastrophe, featuring the ISIS caliphate, onto his predecessor.

“ISIL is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” Obama said in an interview with VICE News released Monday. “Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

I suppose, if you try hard enough, you can find a way to blame the British or the Ottomans for ISIS. But the fact is that Obama was handed a stable Iraq by George W. Bush, who had real reasons to go into country, including what everyone thought was accurate intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

A piece in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs by Rick Brennan, a senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Iraq from 2006 through the end of 2011, lays out exactly what happened. It makes several things clear:

  • The failure of the Iraqis to secure their country absent U.S. troops was predicted;
  • Obama did not seek to keep nearly the number of U.S. troops in Iraq his commanders requested;
  • The excuse that a status of forces agreement was not reached because U.S. troops would have been subject to Iraqi law is a canard. In fact, U.S. forces operating in Iraq today have less legal protection than they would have under a deal Obama could have struck in 2011 with then-Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

Let’s walk through the argument together.

The 2008 agreements negotiated by the Bush administration with the Iraqis called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. The deal was the best Bush could get at the time and was always intended to be renegotiated, which is exactly


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