Obama’s Ongoing Betrayal of America’s Sacrifices in Iraq

Baghdad car bombOn Oct. 5, a suicide bombing just outside a graveyard in Baghdad killed 51 people, many of them Shi’ite pilgrims on their way to a shrine. The attack, commonplace in today’s Iraq, is symptomatic of a nation once again on the brink of civil war. The media largely ignore these ongoing horrors, and for very obvious reasons: it is becoming more evident by the day that the disintegration of Iraq may have been preventable were it not for President Obama’s politically-motivated premature withdrawal of American troops in December 2011, against the advice of military advisors. Now, al-Qaeda in Iraq is surging and slaughtering civilians dozens at a time, while the enormous sacrifices of thousands of American soldiers have been made into a mockery.

In July, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed by bombs and gunfire, marking the deadliest month since violence between Sunni and Shi’ite sects reached its apex between 2006 and 2008. Kenneth Katzman, an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs for the Congressional Research Service, illuminated the fundamental problem. “The growing Sunni rebellion in Iraq has fueled the resurgence [of al-Qaeda in Iraq], as has the fact that the U.S. isn’t there providing intelligence, backstopping the Iraqi security forces or continuing to train and keep up their skill levels,” he explained.

The U.S. isn’t there because Obama failed to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq’s nascent government. Obama claimed Iraqi intransigence was to blame for the failure, because they wouldn’t grant U.S. troops legal immunity if they were breaking Iraqi law. Yet as Max Boot explained in a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other government officials had expressed the same reservation in 2008, when there were far more American troops in the country. Nevertheless, President Bush was able to secure an agreement.

Boot explains the contrast. “Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not,” he wrote. “Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September.”

Boot further notes that Obama’s constant bragging about ending the war, which culminated in his decision to keep only 5000 troops in Iraq (as opposed to the 20,000 initially requested by military commanders or even the 10,000 that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen judged to be the absolute minimum to maintain security) convinced Iraqis they would be left to fend for themselves.

Once our troops withdrew, Maliki moved to consolidate power. Crackdowns were undertaken again Sunni and Kurdish leaders, and other opposition forces. Those crackdowns reached a critical point on April 23, when government forces killed dozens of Sunni protesters in the city of al-Hawijah. The protesters were demonstrating against government policies, including Maliki’s increasing alignment with Iran. A week later, former Iraqi Ambassador Ryan Crocker characterized the crackdown as a turning point, noting that Sunni and Shi’ite leaders who had previously opted to solve their differences without violence were no longer inclined to do so. “Now Sunni Arab sheikhs who had been urging restraint are calling for war,” he wrote. “Some reports say that the tribes are gathering former insurgents and preparing to fight.” In April, 712 Iraqis were killed, a figure that represented the highest number of monthly casualties since 2008.

It hasn’t been that low ever since.

On July 21, a major prison break in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, freed as many as 800 terrorists, including senior members of al-Qaeda. Suicide bombers drove explosives-laden vehicles to the gates of the prison and blasted their way into the compound. “The prison break was a major blow, suggesting not only that [al-Qaeda in Iraq] has enough manpower, but it also has the ability to train, plan, move around undetected and use weaponry,” Katzman explained. “It is a very serious example of how it now has much more freedom of action than they did when the U.S. was militarily present in Iraq.”

Iraqis have paid a terrible price for that freedom. In July, 1,057 Iraqis were killed and 2,326 were wounded by acts of terror and other violence. August saw 804 Iraqis killed and another 2,030 wounded, followed by 979 Iraqis killed, and 2,133 wounded in September violence.

Thus, al-Qaeda is taking full advantage of the security void left by America’s withdrawal. Moreover, that resurgence is abetted by the war in Syria, where the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is conducting operations against Bashar Assad, according to the Associated Press. “Given the security vacuum, it makes sense for him to do that,” said Paul Floyd, a military analyst at global intelligence company Stratfor. Floyd, who served several tours in Iraq, believes the Syrian unrest could facilitate al-Qaeda’s efforts to procure explosives for use in Iraq. “We know Syrian military stocks have fallen into the hands of rebels. There’s nothing to preclude some of that stuff flowing across the border,” he added.

Such a revelation compounds the folly of an Obama administration who, in conjunction with clueless Republicans like Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), advocated for intervention on the side of the “good guys” against the Syrian president, despite the reality that at least half the rebel forces are hardline Islamists or jihadists aligned with al-Qaeda. Intervention was reduced to a “surgical strike” that comically evolved into a demand for the relinquishment of Assad’s chemical weapons cache.

Whether or not Assad completely complies with such demands, the end result in Syria increasingly looks like a lose-lose for the United States. If rebel troops succeed in overturning the Assad regime, it is most likely that Syria will become another Islamist nation dominated by al-Qaeda and those sympathetic to their cause. One such group, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), now controls the northern part of Syria, and threatens to move into Turkey. If Assad prevails, there is a chance al-Qaeda could intensify their effort back in Iraq–using weapons supplied to them by the Obama administration.

According to Iraqi government officials, such intensification is already occurring. Al-Qaeda is reportedly engaged in active recruitment of young Iraqis, and their success so far is daunting. Officials speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity, due to the intelligence issues involved, estimated that the terror organization has as many as 3000 trained fighters based in Iraq, and that at least 100 of them are willing to carry out suicide bombings as soon as they are ordered to do so. They further reveal that terror mastermind al-Baghdadi has issued orders for at least 50 attacks to be conducted in Iraq on a weekly basis.

Ali Nasser, a Shiite government employee from Baghdad, emphasized the grim reality he and his countrymen currently face. “Al-Qaida can blow up whatever number of car bombs they want whenever they choose,” he said. “It seems like al-Qaeda is running the country, not the government in Baghdad.” The government’s impotency is exacerbated by the growing distrust among Sunnis. Since the Maliki administration has squandered their good will, they are no longer willing to give the government intelligence regarding terrorists within their midst.

Thus, as a study released by this Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reveals, al-Qaeda in Iraq has become “an extremely vigorous, resilient, and capable organization that can operate from Basra to coastal Syria,” one that has “reconstituted as a professional military force capable of planning, training, resourcing and executing synchronized and complex attacks in Iraq.”

Emma Sky, a policy adviser for U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno when he was the top American military commander in Iraq, explains it didn’t have to be this way. “During the surge, we helped build up the immune system of Iraq to deter these attacks,” she said. “Now that immune system has been taken away.”

“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,” said President Obama on October 21, 2011. “The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.”

Less than two years later, the “outstanding success” earned by those troops, including the more than 4,400 Americans who paid the ultimate price to achieve it, is being undone.

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  • Chezwick

    Sorry Arnold, Obama may be an unmitigated disaster for a President, but the ONE thing he has done right was to get us the hell out of Iraq. The idea that America could somehow paper-over the ancient Sunni-Shia hatreds of Islam is nothing short of arrogance.

    If the USA were still expending its blood and treasure in Iraq, every time a bomb goes off, the world would be blaming us. As it is, each new atrocity is just a reminder that Muslims cannot live peaceably with themselves, much less others.

    No thanks. Let them dissipate their energies slaughtering each other. Not another American life should be sacrificed trying to civilize those who don’t want civilization.

  • Chezwick

    Web Director….I posted a comment that for some reason resulted in a “this comment must be moderated” or some such response.

    Could you please see that it gets posted?

    Thank you.

  • justquitnow

    The deadline for withdrawl was law and it was set by Bush. When Obama was getting credit for winding down the war in Iraq, the same people were telling us Obama didn’t deserve the credit for that…it was going to happen anyway. Now anytime something bad happens in that country, it’s Obama’s fault for being weak. In fact anything that happens in other countries is Obama’s fault now.

    Shamelss Arnold…really shameless.

    • davarino

      And Obama is totally powerless to change that “law”, as he changes laws on the fly at his whim. Funny, your selective outrage at attacks on your master Obama. He can do no wrong, right? I love his phony love for the troops

      • justquitnow

        Eh, I mean sure…accuse the accuser. The headline grabbed me and it turned out the betrayal was getting out of the country. Sure Obama can do wrong, but do you all have to be hysterical idiots turning it up to 11,

        • ziggy zoggy

          The betrayal was handing Iraq to the jihadi terrorists. Americans are not out of the country.

    • The March Hare

      The deadline was already set, but negotiations for a continuing stabilizing force to remain was to be carried out. Obama ignored that and abandoned Iraq to fend for themselves. Yes, when something bad happens there, it is probably because there is nothing left there to maintain the situation that was paid for in blood and treasure by our troops. Talk about deaths being in vain.

      • justquitnow

        Well as long as the smear article worked on ya.

        • ziggy zoggy

          Well, as long as you worship that incompetent sissy, Obama.

    • A Z

      1. Bush had to give out a pull out date. It put the world on nice that we were not in Iraq to occupy it, to plunder its’ oil or to make it the 51st state.

      It also gave AL Maliki leverage. Nonetheless it had to be done. Just because we gave a pull out date and full intend to pullout if a new agreement is not reach, does not mean that we want to pull out or it is wise to pullout.

      Bush was able to negotiate a SOFA.
      Obama was not able or did not want a SOFA.

      As the article state Obama did not want a SOFA. Obama chased Rouhani all over New York city like a love lorn suitor and yet did not do the anything near the same with Al Maliki.

      For SHAME!

    • Drakken

      Let me ask you a personal question? If Comrade Obummer was right in front of you, would you get down on your knees and blow him? Perhaps let him fk you in the azz without the common courtesy of a reach around?

      • justquitnow

        Flagged and ignored. Get some new schtick troll…..or go get laid, something is building up in you.

        • Drakken

          Of course you would flag it, your a true lib/progressive. Free speech for thee, but not for the rest of us.

          • justquitnow

            Don’t you have a crowded theatre you could be yelling “fire” in?

          • Drakken

            Liberalism is a mental disorder, your living proof of it. Obviously you didn’t get a trophy for just showing up for school, mommy had to give you a cookie and tell you how very special you are.

          • ziggy zoggy

            Don’t you have a gay pride parade you could be marching in?

  • Chezwick

    Obama’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster, but the withdrawal from Iraq is the ONE thing he got right. America is no longer sacrificing its blood and treasure trying civilize an Islamic hell-hole that defies civilization. If our military were still there, every time a bomb explodes the world would be blaming America. As it is, we’re all just reminded that Muslims can’t live with each other in peace, much less non-Muslims.

    We were a bit arrogant thinking we could magically overcome a 1400-year old confessional hatred. We learned the hard way. Let the Sunnis and Shias slaughter each other. Not another American life should be sacrificed trying to civilize those who reject civilization.

    • Andy

      Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
      Ditto Afghanistan (not the subject of the discussion).

    • truebearing

      Iraq is a complex country and the decision to invade Iraq controversial, but unceremoniously pulling out all troops, without the Status of Forces agreement, was yet another intentional act by Obama to create an opportunity for jihadists to gain power. Now the only ones who benefit from our sacrifices are Al Queda and Iran. Our allies have yet another reason to distrust us.

      If you were to argue that invading Iran was the better choice, many would agree. It would have unseated the Mullahs and given the moderates a chance to rule, thereby eliminating the pending nuclear crisis. It would also have made deposing Saddam less deadly for our troops. With the Twelvers out of power, the IED machine would have been shut down.

      • Chezwick

        “but unceremoniously pulling out all troops, without the Status of Forces agreement, was yet another intentional act by Obama to create an opportunity for jihadists to gain power.”

        RESPONSE: The Iraqis refused to agree to give our soldiers immunity from local prosecution, immunity we enjoy everywhere our combat troops are employed. Sorry, but Obama did the right thing. You may have no problem with American troops languishing in Iraqi jails for crimes, real or imagined, but I sure do

        “Now the only ones who benefit from our sacrifices are Al Queda and Iran.”

        RESPONSE: Let them fight in perpetuity, exhausting themselves and dissipating their energies. The idea that we should have stayed on indefinitely, policing Iraq and expending our own blood and treasure, is not my idea of an effective employment of geo-political statecraft.

        • truebearing

          Your first response didn’t address the point you quoted.

          The immunity from prosecution was simply a way to get more in the bargain. Obama didn’t even bother to negotiate. And who was going to enforce the jailing of Americans? you are falling for Obama’s excuses for throwing away a costly win in Iraq.

          You know damn well I don’t want Americans languishing in foreign jails, but it never would have happened.

          Now we hear that Al Queda has ransacked biological weapons labs in Syria. The simple truth is: we are in a long term war with Islam, like it of not. Taking your dollies and going home only lets the nutjobs consolidate more power and leave us a tougher fight the next time….and there will be a next time.

          Your theory that they will fight until exhausted has already been proven wrong by hundreds of years of internicine Muslim fighting. They are getting stronger and more energized…or haven’t you noticed?

          Eventually, there will be a caliphate, well armed by China and Russia. We’ll fight them again, only they will be much stronger. Is that preferable? There are no easy choices. The same thing goes for iran. Eventually, if not already, Iran will get nukes. Taking out their leadership before that happens would cost far less than risking nuclear exchanges once they have nukes.

      • Drakken

        We would not necessarily need to invade Iran, just hit their power, political, and military targets and turn their country back to the dark ages, no power for the lights, the people get a little anxious.

        • truebearing

          Exactly. There are plenty of Iranians who are totally fed up with the rule of the Twelvers. History will show that Iran should have been taken down first, then Saddam.

          • ziggy zoggy

            Yeah, but Bush would never have got authority to go after Iran. He could have tried to do it on his own, but he would have failed. I think he should have just sent in a series of missile barrages and let ordinary Iranians take it from there, but hey……..he screwed up.

    • Drakken

      We have over 5,000 troops in the Green Zone along with 20,000 contractors. This is not a good situation to be in especially when AQ and the Iranians turn their attention on the place. Let us not even mention the Kurds in the North who are a de facto independent country with Russian support.

  • logdon

    Such tragedy.

    The tragedy being that we wasted so much effort, blood, treasure and goodwill on this place.

    My response to Shia on Sunni violence?

    To paraphrase the immemorial line, Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

    • Kieran

      Well I think we should care about civilian casualties but if extremists want to kill each other, I don’t care.

      • logdon

        The ‘extremists’ are civilians.

      • Drakken

        Fkem, let them slaughter each other to their little jihadist hearts content. Muslims just be killing other muslims.

    • chuckie2u

      Recall the Neo-Con White Paper wanting to establish a Democracy in the middle East along with controlling all that Oil in Iraq… Well the NeoCons found out Democracy is not compatable to Islamic Theology and the Oil fields were really not controlled by the Sunnis. So they gathered their toys and started to come home. Sure they hate us. They want foreign masters off their soil.

      • logdon

        You completely miss the point, Chuckie.

        We are off their soil and they still continue to slaughter each other. And the butchery is growing.

        This is nothing to do with, as you put it, foreign masters, it is all about the homicidal hatred those Quranic imbibers so obviously revel in.

        However removing the iron grip of Saddam certainly opened up the gates of hell, I’ll give you that.

  • chuckie2u

    Obama was right in getting our troops out of Iraq. We cannot police every country in the Middle East. Let Arabs send in their troops and help clean up the mess. Seems the Sunnis and Shias have been fighting over their religion since their Prophet died and we have no business getting in the middle. Then again this is all about controlling the Oil Cartels oil..

  • Donald J DaCosta

    Other than the unfortunate fact that 4300 of America’s best were killed in that
    effort why should there be sympathy for Iraq because of their inability to muster the will, the courage and the manpower necessary to face the threat of Al Qaeda; Muslim fanatics operating freely in a Muslim country.

    America’s involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East based on the western idealism so stated by the current U.S. military hierarchy of “winning the hearts and minds” is misguided at best and resulted in a dragged out exercise in futility that took the lives of those 4300 men and women at what history will conclude was a tragic waste of human life; not to mention the American lives lost in Afghanistan, another failure in the making.

    This attitude of self flagellation persists today and until the west and America in
    particular recognize that the threat to be faced is far greater than some well organized, well funded terrorists who’ve “hijacked a religion,” this drum beat of blame will no doubt continue; the assumption being that an endless presence of military targets will eventually succeed, in what? A western style, liberal democratic society that this entire culture abhors? The Middle East is in turmoil primarily because of Muslim fanaticism that is part and parcel of their theological roots. One Muslim sect pitted against another. Islam is NOT a religion of peace. When that becomes as well established as it is now studiously and persistently denied perhaps a new strategy, based on the true nature of the threat, will save the west from itself.

    Perhaps Obama’s feckless leadership in this regard is a blessing in disguise. What this has turned out to be is a tragic waste of the west’s blood and treasure against an enemy yet to be recognized, that will soon have to be confronted on a global scale. Hopefully this will become obvious before the west suffers another attack from “the religion of peace” that dwarfs that of 9/11. And before it embarks on another misguided crusade based on political
    correctness and the notion that anything that goes bad in the world must have been caused by us and all that’s needed is for us to make nice and we’ll “win the hearts and minds.” How’d that workout and at what cost?

  • chuckie2u

    For those I know who risk their lives in Iraq and Afgan admitted there was nothing over there worth giving up an American life for now or in the future. Let Allah sort out their differences and keep Americans out of it.

  • Drakken

    As I told that idiot Bremmer in the beginning of this debacle, instead of hunting the Generals of Saddam, we should put them in charge and GTF and make them pay war reparations to us and called it a day. We would have the added benefit of them being secular allies against the Iranians and keep the Shiites under the boot.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Today Republicans are good at two things: the first is blaming Obama for Bush’s inevitable failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the second is caving in to Obama and the Democrats at every opportunity.

  • Gloria Stewart

    Gloria Stewart on October 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm said:
    President Obama was remiss in the premature removel of our forces – yes. But let us not overlook the fact that President Bush made the most serious – and unforgiveable mistake – of keeping American troops in Iraq with the intent of presiding over a democratic Iraq that would be a template for other countries in the area. No nation with a Muslim majority – and Iraq has an overwhelming Muslim majority – is capable of democracy. I do not know who his religious advisor was, probably the same one who suggested he refer to Islam as a religion of peace after 9/11. I also do not know what religion his advisor has knowledge of, but it is not Islam.
    Now iraq is for all intents and purposes in the camp of Iran. Nice work.

  • Slappyhappy

    The hidden basic plan is in place. We have Muslims killing each other in Syria, Iraq, all over the Middle East to Africa. Having the Muslim Islamist killing each other is what we do.

  • No RNC

    I’m very much in favor of replacing those US contractors still in Iraq w/ Ahlert, Boot, Cheney, all the PNACers, all the Goldbergers, Cliff Mays,and other assorted boosters of US intervention in the ME. Pick them up and drop them in the Green Zone ASAP!

    • ziggy zoggy

      No. Send all the Democrat scum who did everything they could to make America fail over there. All the vermin who accused American servicemen of phony atrocities and cried crocodile tears when they were killed. The same ghouls who screamed bloody murder because they couldn’t film American coffins and smirked over every death.

      Especially Obama. He abandoned Iraq and Afghanistan and helped overthrow the secular Qaddafi, Mubarek and others so jihadi terrorists could take power. And oh, yeah. He watched four Americans get murdered in Benghazi Libya.