Sunday, October 23, 2011
Obama Wants Campaign Contributions For Ending Iraq War
Troops Coming Home Based On Bush Agreement With Iraq
By Dell Hill
We knew this was going to happen. It was just a matter of time...and apparently the Obama re-election campaign chose to strike while the iron was hot.
In a big speech to the country, Obama said he had ordered all of the troops home from Iraq by the end of this year. The fact that the withdrawal date was set by an agreement between former President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government in 2008 doesn’t seem to matter - Obama is going to declare that he fulfilled a promise and he has done so by ending the war.
Obama actually ran on a promise to end the war on his first day in office...and then moved the date a couple of more times, reminiscent of how he’s closed Guantanamo - which is still open, by the way.
Jonah Goldberg, writing at the National Review Online, suggests that Obama has already taken credit for ending a war that actually ended a long time ago.
That Didn’t Take Long
By Jonah Goldberg
The Obama campaign sent this email out this afternoon:
I’m James Kvaal, the new policy director for President Obama’s 2012 campaign. You’ll be hearing from me occasionally about the President’s policies and those of our opponents, and how we can all help bring about change for our country.
Yesterday, we accomplished one major change when President Obama announced that all American troops in Iraq will be home before the holidays.
With that action, the Iraq war will end. And one of the President’s central promises will have been kept.
Both as Americans and as supporters of President Obama, this is something for us to reflect on, and be proud of.
Watch the video of the President’s announcement — then please pass this on:
[embeded photo of Obama linking to the campaign website]
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.
Now, thanks to the actions of this President, we can say that conflict is coming to a close.
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. In the last campaign, the President committed to getting American troops home while leaving behind a stable and secure Iraq. You rallied around that vision, and now that promise has been fulfilled.
On behalf of this campaign and supporters of the President across the country, I want to thank the more than 1 million Americans who have served in Iraq, and all those who worked to make this possible.
Obama for America
So open up your checkbook and send the Obama re-election campaign committee a big donation, because Obama was the President when the Bush-Iraq agreement was completed. He did a nice job baby-sitting that agreement and we’re all eternally grateful.
Dell’s Bottom Line Exit Question:
If bringing the troops home from Iraq means the war is over, does that mean World War II is still being fought in Germany?
I think you get my drift. This is nothing more than a political stunt to take credit for something that had already been accomplished by someone else long ago.
This article by Glen Greenwald is re-posted from Salon.com.
President Obama announced today that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, and this announcement is being seized upon exactly the way you would predict: by the Right to argue that Obama is a weak, appeasing Chamberlain and by Democrats to hail his greatness for keeping his promise and (yet again) Ending the War. It’s obviously a good thing that these troops are leaving Iraq, but let’s note three clear facts before either of these absurd narratives ossify:
First, the troop withdrawal is required by an agreement which George W. Bush negotiated and entered into with Iraq and which was ratified by the Iraqi Parliament prior to Obama’s inauguration. Let’s listen to the White House itself today: “’This deal was cut by the Bush administration, the agreement was always that at end of the year we would leave. . . .’ an administration official said.” As I said, it’s a good thing that this agreement is being adhered to, and one can reasonably argue that Obama’s campaign advocacy for the war’s end influenced the making of that agreement, but the Year End 2011 withdrawal date was agreed to by the Bush administration and codified by them in a binding agreement.
Second, the Obama administration has been working for months to persuade, pressure and cajole Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain in that country beyond the deadline. The reason they’re being withdrawn isn’t because Obama insisted on this, but because he tried — but failed — to get out of this obligation. Again, listen to the White House itself:
The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq expires at the end of the year. Officials had been discussing the possibility of maintaining several thousand U.S. troops to train Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqis wanted troops to stay but would not give them immunity, a key demand of the administration. . . .
“The Iraqis wanted additional troops to stay,” an administration official said. “We said here are the conditions, including immunities. But the Iraqis because of a variety of reasons wanted the troops and didn’t want to give immunity.”
The Obama administration — as it’s telling you itself — was willing to keep troops in Iraq after the 2011 deadline (indeed, they weren’t just willing, but eager). The only reason they aren’t is because the Iraqi Government refused to agree that U.S. soldiers would be immunized if they commit serious crimes, such as gunning down Iraqis without cause . As we know, the U.S. is not and must never be subject to the rule of law when operating on foreign soil (and its government and owners must never be subject to the rule of law in any context). So Obama was willing (even desirous) to keep troops there, but the Iraqis refused to meet his demands (more on that fact from Foreign Policy‘s Josh Rogin).
Third, there will still be a very substantial presence in that country, including what McClatchy called a “small army” under the control of the State Department. They will remain indefinitely, and that includes a large number of private contractors.
None of this is to say that this is bad news (it isn’t: it’s good news), nor is it to say that Obama deserves criticism for adhering to the withdrawal plan (he doesn’t). It would just be nice if these central facts — painfully at odds with the two self-serving narratives that started being churned out before the President even spoke — were acknowledged.
I believe the country has not even gotten close to coming to terms with the magnitude of the national crime that was the attack on Iraq (I think that’s why we’re so eager to find pride and purpose in the ocean of Bad Guy corpses our military generates: tellingly, the only type of event that generates collective national celebrations these days). Needless to say, none of the responsible leaders for that attack have been punished; many continue to serve right this very minute in key positions (such as Vice President and Secretary of State); and (other than scapegoated Judy Miller) none of the media stars and think-tank “scholars” who cheered it on and enabled it have suffered an iota of stigma or loss of credibility. The aggressive war waged on Iraq began by virtue of a huge cloud of deceit and propaganda; perhaps it could end without that.
UPDATE: Over at Wired, Spencer Ackerman documents the ongoing reality in Iraq and writes: “President Obama announced on Friday that all 41,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq will return home by December 31. ‘That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end,’ he said. Don’t believe him.” Digby adds that the administration ”clearly didn’t want this outcome and lobbied hard to get the Iraqis to push back the deadline” and thus concludes: “after everything our government has done in this region over the past few years, I think these facts argue for skepticism rather than celebration.” But as we’ve seen over and over, nothing is less welcome that these sorts of clouding facts that get in the way of a political celebration.
Posted by Dell at 12:15 PM