In 2008, Senator Obama wrote an op-ed for the New York Times laying out his plan for Iraq. “I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda,” he wrote to explain his opposition to the Iraq War.
Obama’s plan for Iraq consisted of the obligatory Bush-bashing combined with the Democratic Party’s favorite counterintuitive talking point of the time claiming that, “only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation.”
It was a talking point that Obama would repeat over and over again in the Senate and on the campaign trail. And the more he repeated it, the less sense it made.
Why would the Sunnis and Shiites be more likely to reach an accommodation if American troops were no longer present in Iraq, with Iran leaving over the shoulders of the Shiite majority and Al Qaeda making a comeback as the defenders of the Sunni minority?
Obama never did get around to answering that question. During the Democratic primaries, he insisted that the best way “to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year – now.”
Obama did not withdraw the troops “now.” He did not withdraw them in six months or in one year. He did fudge matters once in office by staging a fake withdrawal and renaming the mission and then staging a real withdrawal on the Bush timeline. And he left with the situation deteriorating to dangerous levels.
In his 2011 State of the Union address, he boasted of Iraq, “Violence is down, and a new government has been formed.” The ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner was belatedly hung and everyone moved on.
Except Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda was hardly present in Afghanistan. But it was heavily present in Iraq. And it didn’t go away just because Obama stopped paying attention to it.
Now Al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to take over two countries at once; Iraq and Syria. It’s a big goal, but it knows that in Syria, Obama will help them and that in Iraq, he won’t do anything to stop them.
The United States has carried out drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. But it hasn’t touched the largest concentration of Al Qaeda in the world in Syria where the Al Nusra Front has as many as 20,000 fighters and ISIS has 12,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria
30,000 Al Qaeda terrorists should be the world’s biggest target, but Obama is too busy pretending that they aren’t there.
In response to Al Qaeda in Iraq’s onslaught in that country where the terrorist group has reclaimed Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, the CIA will provide targeting information to the Iraqis while equipping them with surveillance drones and Cessna turboprop planes armed with Hellfire missiles.
It’s a ridiculously complicated way to try and duplicate the drone strikes that have worked so well in Pakistan without actually having a single American aircraft, even unmanned, in the skies over Iraq.
The convoluted workaround is a testament to how much Obama wants to avoid even the appearance of American forces returning to Iraq. Instead of protecting national security by preventing Al Qaeda from gaining the manpower, revenue and weapons to once again seriously threaten the United States, he is putting politics first.
The Iraq War is extremely unpopular and it was Obama and his fellow Democrats who helped make it that way. It was Obama who shamelessly campaigned on an early withdrawal promise that he had no intention of keeping, pretended that he had made an early withdrawal and eventually skipped out of Iraq rather than reach an agreement which would have alerted the public to his original lie.
The costs of that deceit can be seen in Anbar Province today. Obama claimed that he had a plan for Iraq. But there was no plan. There were only catchphrases and applause lines.
Despite repeatedly calling for a political solution in Iraq, as he now calls for a political solution in Afghanistan, Obama had no plan for achieving it. Instead he looked away from Iran’s penetration of Iraq and the resulting sharp split between Sunnis and Shiites. He ignored the escalation of Al Qaeda attacks and instead created a safe zone for Al Qaeda in Syria by backing the Sunni Jihadists of the Arab Spring.
Obama destabilized Iraq. Then he destabilized Syria. And both countries turned into playgrounds for Al Qaeda.
Obama still has no plan for dealing with that. Secretary of State John Kerry camps out in Jerusalem to pressure Israel into releasing more terrorists. The New York Times describes his larger goal as pushing for a worldwide mandatory Global Warming treaty in 2015. Iraq doesn’t appear anywhere on the list.
Kerry famously told students that if they didn’t get a good education, they would end up stuck in Iraq. American soldiers were offended by the joke, but it turns out that it’s possible to be so overeducated that you end up stuck in Iraq without ever knowing it. That is Kerry and Obama’s problem.
Neither man wants to touch Iraq with a thousand-mile pole, but Al Qaeda suffers from no such scruples.
Al Qaeda in Iraq isn’t just building bombs anymore. It’s playing around with chemical weapons. And it’s even experimenting with using drones to carry out chemical weapons attacks.
Last spring, Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq were busted in a chemical weapons workshop with nerve gas in a plot to carry out attacks in Europe and the United States. Al Nusra Front terrorists were arrested in Turkey in possession of more nerve gas.
A few years ago, Al Qaeda’s worldwide numbers were miniscule. There were never more than a few dozen Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when Obama redeployed there and sacrificed the lives of over 1600 American soldiers. But there are now tens of thousands of Al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.
With Iraq and Syria, Al Qaeda has gained access to manpower, weapons, both conventional and unconventional, and even oil, making it more powerful than it ever was. Even more powerful than its former Taliban hosts.
Al Qaeda in Iraq’s ranks doubled after the Obama pullout. They have since increased fivefold.
Under Obama, Al Qaeda has not only rebuilt, it has made gains that put it vastly beyond where it was before September 11. All the sacrifices and hard work were undone in a matter of years by Obama.
Back home, Iraq War vets are angry at the sight of Al Qaeda flags rising in Fallujah and Ramadi. More Americans died in Anbar Province than anywhere else. Now their sacrifices have been wasted.
Jeremiah Workman, a United States Marine who received the second-highest award for valor during the fighting in Fallujah, said, “My heart is aching right now.”
Obama has never stopped taking his victory lap over Osama, but Al Qaeda has gained new strength under him. Not only isn’t Al Qaeda on the run, as he falsely claimed during the election, but it is bigger, stronger and more dangerous than ever.
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