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Obama Grabs for Political Gain from Iraq War’s End

by Keith Koffler on October 24, 2011, 11:40 am

Well that was fast.

President Obama is already politicizing his withdrawal of troops from Iraq by year’s end, touting the move as a grand achievement and a campaign promise kept. The promptness with which Obama got down to politicizing his commander in chief role – he’s even already emailed his list of campaign supporters – begs the question of whether politics went into the decision and the process that led to the withdrawal.

Obama characterized the exodus from Iraq as an historic success. Actually, it’s a potentially epic failure that could create a vacuum in Iraq for Iran’s venomous mullahtocracy. And the sight of the president using his role as commander in chief to seize political capital is exceedingly tawdry.

Appearing in the Rose Garden Friday, Obama made a claim for the wonderfulness of it all.

After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. As Commander-in-Chief, ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities . . .

Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.  After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.

But over the summer, according to the New York Times, senior American commander in Iraq Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said he wanted to maintain as many as 14,000 to 18,000 troops in the country after the end of the year. He was overruled, and the White House negotiated with the Iraqis for a U.S. force of 3,000 to 4,000.

The lower number was panned by many analysts and by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – who as the Times notes had visited Iraq many times – as insufficient to preserve all the U.S. work and sacrifice in Iraq.

And then, the administration FAILED, NOT SUCCEEDED, in its effort to maintain even this measly force in the country, with talks breaking down over whether U.S. troops would be immune from Iraqi law. But as Josh Rogin suggests in the Foreign Policy magazine blog The Cable, the administration negotiating strategy was at best flawed and at worst not designed to succeed, driven by domestic political needs to get troops out by the end of 2011 as promised.

After Obama spoke Friday, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough was dispatched to the briefing room to sugarcoat the failure.

We talked about immunities, there’s no question about that . . . But the bottom line is, the decision that you heard the President talk about today is reflective of his view and the Prime Minister’s view of the kind of relationship that we want to have going forward . . . So we feel like we got exactly what we needed to protect our interests, and the Iraqis feel the same way.

If by “our interests” McDonough meant those of the Obama 2012 campaign, then he was correct. The end of the Iraq War will confirm Obama’s peacenik credentials with the Left and allow him to claim to the rest of the voting public that he’s a man who keeps his promises, even though he was supposedly negotiating with the Iraqis so that he could break the promise.

Friday, just hours after appearing in the Rose Garden, Obama sent a message to his vast campaign list proclaiming himself a good guy who makes history.

When I came into office, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. As Commander in Chief, I ended our combat mission last year and pledged to keep our commitment to remove all our troops by the end of 2011 . . . This is a significant moment in our history.

This was followed Saturday by a missive from James Kvaal, the campaign policy director, who characterized the president as a peacemaker, a reliable type, and a man of “change” – as once advertised – who cleaned up the mess of the Bush years.

Yesterday, we accomplished one major change when President Obama announced that all American troops in Iraq will be home before the holidays.

The war in Iraq was a divisive, defining issue in our country for nearly nine years, and was the catalyst for many Americans to get involved in politics for the first time.

The end of this war reflects a larger transition in our foreign policy as, in the President’s words, “the tide of war is receding.” The drawdown in Iraq has allowed us to refocus on the fight against al Qaeda, even as we begin to bring troops home from Afghanistan. And of course, this week also marked the definitive end of the Qaddafi regime in Libya.

These outcomes are an example of what happens when a leader sets a plan and sees it through.

Obama’s political success is a foreign policy failure. He may have just handed back the Iraq victory George W. Bush had won. But as long as Iraq doesn’t fall apart before Election Day, this will be a central plank of the Obama campaign.

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Janice/Granny Jan October 24, 2011 at 11:57 am

You’re on a roll, Keith. Will the MSM even care that Iraq is implementing Sharia law and that mentioning zioinism in a favorable light is punishable by death?

Susan October 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Janice, Have you seen the follow-up video of Ira, the cabbie who was confronted by the anti-Semitic ‘plumber’ at 0WS? Amazing man with a great story of personal responsibility…

MT for re-redistribution October 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm

What about Libya? Thrown to the radical muslims too. Glad our tax money financed that revolution. This man is single-handedly destroying freedom around the world. Where is the GOP to call him on the carpet???

Susan October 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Where is the GOP to call him on the carpet???

Hiding behind the curtains… When is the last time you’ve heard John Boehner say anything on foreign policy?

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Great point Susan. Republicans lack a leader who can formulate rejoinders to the president. They can’t call him on the carpet because they’re under it.

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Thanks Janice. And Obama is parading around like all these things are already victories.

Star October 24, 2011 at 11:58 am

Maybe Susie from the Verizon commercial can help him make the lemonade.

ol' gator October 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm

barry would have much more success selling camel dung to his muslim
buddies than his poopy ideas of today …which BTW is as “shovel ready” as everything else coming out his stinkin’ thinkin’ & nobodys going for it! …except maybe a few OWS misfits who in a matter of days will be searching for a nice warm place & a meal provided by some evil rich person/s like mommy & daddy… ;)

elect patriots, not politicians

Russell October 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Being the anti-colonialist that Barry is, he predictably did not say if the U.S. won the war or if there was victory in Iraq.

Everything, I repeat, everything this guy does is political. Period.

I would like to see what the poll numbers are from the troops is. If Barry ever thinks about that one, he will attempt to limit the troop vote via some sort of Chicago style hurdle.

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Yeah, how about a victory dance for the USA and not just BHO?

CCG October 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I totally agree that all this is political and knew this would all “happen” at the right time in the campaign. **I look at his schedule everyday – today is nothing but full blown campaigning. Why don’t the repubs slam him on this? He’s supposed to be running the country. How is that even a credible thought when all he does is BS make-work and campaign?

langley barfly October 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Good Question!
Why doesnt the “Republican Leadership” slam Obama on his excessive 2012 campaigning/fund-raising?!

Knothead October 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Because they are cowering to the notion of disagreeing with anything this Pissantdent(sic) does is racist.

srdem65 October 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Good for him. It takes some mighty clever spin to turn a rejection into something to brag about.
Americans would have been impressed if MrO had expressed outrage at the ingrates in Iraq and damned them to whatever fate looms ahead for them.
saying that, now:
It’s past time for America to bring all our troops home from everywhere in the world. The danger to our freedom is here on our own soil, not in some sandy desert in the MiddleEast or the green forests of Germany. It’s long past time to let these soverign states protect themselves and not rely on American blood and treasure to keep them safe.

Anonna October 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Obama can do what he wants in his own interest, but we’ll see what happens in Iraq. If widespread murder, rape, and the imposition of yet another sharia government follows, it may not be to The One’s credit in the short- or long-run that he made this move.

I should probaby remove sharia from the lists of events that may dismay The One’s supporters — they know so little about about and persist in acting as if islam is just another flavor of nicey nice that it may mean nothing to them.

Susan October 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

All of the infatuated women who support him should know that the institution of sharia means stripping them of every personal freedom they currently possess. They may think they are safe from Islam’s barbaric treatment of women in America, but they won’t be for long if this Islamic uprising is allowed to continue.

irishalaman December 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

shhh, put your burqa back on and please bequiet,

justperhaps October 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Thanks Keith,
History will repeat. This time there will be no pictures of helicopters lifting friends from the roof of the embassy. With the collusion of the press no pictures of blood on the streets will be seen.

Death list headings are already in place, waiting for names.

Pilate did a ritual washing. Will Obama? (an analogy to a ruler’s quality, not a victim’s worthiness)

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I think you’re right. The lists are drawn up. The U.S. military, which is overextended and doesn’t want to be there, nevertheless thought we should stay a while longer.

brstevens October 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Most of Obama’s politically motivated policy decisions seem to come back and bite him in the butt at the most inopportune time. I have no doubt this one will too.

Susan October 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

You are spot on Keith. Great insight into this latest nightmare come true. Just wondering…did his campaign huckster, James Kvaal, have anything to say about Karzai’s promise to side with Pakistan should they go to war with Afghanistan? How about the ‘rebels’ in Libya embracing radical Islam and sharia law? Well, at least they get to enjoy polygamy again (limit 4 wives each). The election of Obama has been like a wrecking ball on the world’s stability. In the end, Iraq will probably end up joining the caliphate in the making by Iran and all the sacrifices our country has made to bring freedom to the Middle East will be for naught. The actions of the destructor in chief and his merry band misfit Marxists will come back to bite us all.

Susan October 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Afghanistan should read U.S. Know things are topsy-turvy, but don’t really think Karzia will support Pakistan in a war with Afghanistan, unless it pays more than what he’s getting from US.

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Right – Karzai just needs his meds adjusted.

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Well said Susan. There are so many things that can go wrong at this point. Don’t forget Egypt too.

Rick October 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

With respects to JFK’s inaugural address…..”Let every voter know… that we shall pay any price, bear any mis-statement, meet any deadline, support any lie, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of this administration.”

Techie October 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Why is there -0- mention, anywhere, that GW Bush in 2008 signed the original SOFA to get us out by the end of this year unless Iraq accepted an extention? Obviously, Iraq decided not to extend it or provide immunity to our forces, so out we go….

Russell October 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Techie, I have seen this mentioned in on-line articles and on TV news.

I think it came down to the immunity issue, but couldn’t the Soetoro Administration negoiate an extension.

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I can’t believe we didn’t have the leverage to get this done. I really think he wanted out.

PH October 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Ever hear of the SOFA, obama? You know, the one signed in 2008 by the US and Iraq that stated all our troops would leave Iraq by Dec 31, 2011? The one that left that date open if another agreement could be negotiated? And you couldn’t negotiate anything worthwhile, so don’t act like this was all your doing and that you are fulfilling a campaign promise. Lies, all lies.

Just2old October 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Yep and this politically motivated decision will certainly bite all of us in the butt. Things will certainly go to Hell as soon as we’re out. My only hope is that this decision will seal his defeat in the end.

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm

And not only him but his national security aides, spinning away at this in the briefing room. And the press challenged very little.

Shofar October 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm

During the ’60′s the fear in southeast Asia was the “Domino Effect” of Communism. The idea being that as one nation fell into the sphere of influence, be it China or the USSR, another would fall. This is what is happening in southwest Asia and north Africa, except this time it is Islamic ideology and Sharia law.

The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, and the political instability that exists within the region will allow for more and more west leaning nations to fall under the rule of Sharia and Jihadist influence.

One other point to consider is that with the influx of US troops returning stateside, where are those mustering out going to find employment? With the economy being what it is right now, and unemployment being over 9% where are these men and women, who have sacrificed for country, going to find work? This will only swell the unemployment roles, and put even more pressure on an already overtaxed heathcare system. Granted most vets will get medical attention through the VA, but that is only going to further the obligations of an already collapsing system.

Perhaps that is what this administration is hoping for, further collapse the system by bringing more and more people into it. Never waste a crisis.

Susan October 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm

This is kinda scary. Remember way back when DHS put out a paper on right wing extremism and the radicalization of returning vets?

…the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks

Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities.

They want to create chaos, and then turn around and pin it on conservatives…

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Good point Shofar. And one of he untold stories of Vietnam is that it limited the domino effect by giving other countries in the region time to get their acts together. We are in great danger of Islamic dominoes falling in the Middle East.

Star October 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Well, 55,000 American lives later, Taiwan is still a shaky domino, same for N. Korea, and Pantetta said we now had to focus our military efforts on Asia…so….

langley barfly October 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I look forward to US diplomats fleeing our brand new Embassy in Baghdad mid-2012 (Vietnam 1975 redux) as Iraq goes to H#ll… all because of “Pres.” Obama. Who will Obama ‘blame’ for that…? (SecState Hilliary?…)

THEN? Will the “media” figure out Obama HAS NO CLUE about “US Foreign Policy”

Susan October 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Heard a caller bring up that same concern on Rush. I’m leery of his motivations for leaving the billion dollar Iraq embassy defenseless. Is it because he has no clue, or he is setting that embassy up to create another foreign policy crisis next year and generate another campaign boost? I sure hate to think a president could be capable of doing something like that, but he is going against the wishes of congress and his generals in pulling ALL the troops out…

Keith Koffler October 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I could happen.

Knothead October 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm

The Commander of Chief has spoken, you must obey.

gwhh October 25, 2011 at 10:18 am

Yes, Berry and company messed up the negotations(don’t they always) with the iraq goverment. BUT-they were going to have to stand on there on 2 feet sooner than latter. Might as well do it now and see what happens.

Neha October 26, 2011 at 12:57 am

actually USA, is the only Country who has used bombs in the second world war, on hiroshima and nagasaki, and has seen the destuction caused by these bombs, it has totally destroyed the hiroshima and nagasaki. it only advocates that other country should not have bombs, but never destroyed its bombs and kept on increasing its bomb arsenal and military equipments. it has invaded vietnam, it attacked cuba and libya, and on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)it attacked IRAQ, and ruined the whole country, which was once a very prosperous and avanced. it has killed millions of people there including old and children and women, even the women were brutally raped by the soldiers, then comes the osama bin laden, the al-qaida-leader. he was brought and traind by CIA and british agencies and used to fight against the russians on behalf of american in the name of jihad in afghanistan, but it was the americans fighting russians by sending osama like people in front. CIA, and americans do all such types of activities and blames other and killed billions of innocent people on false pretext. the biggest lie of this century was that it attacked IRAQ on the pretext of WMD, and when it was proved that there were no WMDs in IRAQ at all, these people simply said it was a mistake.i hope and wish that americans should have used their power in a good and better way as to help the mankind.

Everett Williams November 29, 2011 at 5:53 am

Wow, thanks MR. “”PRESIDENT”” just in time for your campaign. Those GOOD MEN that die, your not worthy of so you can get a few political points. I despise this fake, no account, from the hood, pretend BIG-SHOT which is nothing but a tur* LIAR.

stephen hopkins December 16, 2011 at 8:16 am

Keith Koffler must be a member of Fox in good standing, or is he with Rush Limbaugh? He is so critical of Obama, who has been facing adament and unbridled opposition from the GOP that it is a wonder he has been able to do anything. And for him to say, as some in the far right ae, that we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, spending billions, is really too much. Why doesn’t he get a life.

irishalaman December 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

HI Steve,
did you hear the news out of bagdad today?
Bombs away bagdad! yeah those mean evil republicans and Fox news.
it must be their fault that Iraq has turned back into hell after two years of Barry. Put down the koolaid, and visit a mosque near you!

irishalaman December 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

news out of bagdhad?
Bombs away, the Americans are gone, let’s get back to killing each other
until we have a despot or terrorist imam!
OK Everyone?