5 years ago
So this is the way it comes to an end?
Throughout the summer and autumn, as talks on a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq foundered, President Barack Obama and his point man on Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden, remained aloof from the process, not even phoning top Iraqi officials to help reach a deal, according to logs released by the U.S. Embassy here.
The omission is an unusual one, given the high priority that U.S. officials had given to achieving an agreement for some sort of residual U.S. presence in Iraq after the Dec. 31 pullout deadline set in a 2008 pact between the two countries. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other senior Pentagon officials spoke often about the need for an agreement in a pivotal country in a volatile region and insisted talks were continuing up until Friday, when Obama announced that all U.S. troops would be coming home before the end of December.
A listing of direct conversations provided by the embassy — drawn, the embassy said, from the White House website — indicates that Obama had no direct contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki between Feb. 13, when he telephoned the prime minister, until Friday, when he called al-Maliki to tell him U.S. troops would be withdrawn by Dec. 31.
Also absent for nearly the entire year was Biden. According to the official listing, Biden telephoned al-Maliki on Dec. 21, the day al-Maliki formed a new government, and visited here Jan. 18, but had no direct contact after that date, according to the official listing.
U.S. Embassy officials, asked in July whether Biden was coming to help secure the deal, which military officers said needed to be concluded by July 31 for planning purposes, said the vice president was too busy trying to end the donnybrook in Congress over raising the national debt ceiling to visit Iraq.
On Tuesday, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, denied that Obama and Biden had not talked to al-Maliki during the negotiations. But he did not respond to a request for the dates of conversations between the president and al-Maliki.
So I decided to hop on over to Abu Muqawama’s place at CNAS (for the first time in about a year) and see if he had anything to say about Iraq. He had this to say. “Having pretty carefully considered the arguments for and against leaving troops in Iraq beyond this year, I ultimately found Doug Ollivant’s argument to be the most persuasive. So I support the president’s decision to end U.S. military involvement in the war in Iraq.” Douglas Ollivant had this to say.
Let me be clear. The United States should have no — zero — troops in Iraq on Jan. 1, 2012, when the Status of Forces Agreement signed between the two countries requires a complete withdrawal (this number excepts, of course, a small military presence at the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Military Cooperation — a presence that exists in almost every embassy worldwide). This is not about delivering on an Obama campaign promise or saving money. This is about doing the right thing for both the United States and Iraq. Although the White House’s proposal to keep approximately 3,000 troops in Iraq is better than the rumored 17,000 desired by the commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd Austin, maintaining any American presence is simply the wrong decision for both parties.
Despite having both a political problem and a terrorism problem, Iraq is now a reasonably stable country that must have the opportunity to chart its own course.
Now that Ollivant has been “clear,” let me also be clear. Maliki’s puppet-masters are the Mullah’s in Iran. Regardless of what one thinks of OIF1, OIF2 and OIF3 were necessary. And a certain Marine and I had a conversation the other day about the 100+ foreign fighters flowing across the Syrian border per month and Iraq as a terrorist haven in 2007 during the height of the surge (when he deployed to Fallujah). He also remarked to me about the poverty he witnessed, and the wealth that it takes to arm a society.
“As little money as I make, I am rich compared to most Iraqis,” he said. “Yet they had AKs, handguns, explosive ordnance, and RPGs. The RPG is an EFP device. Do you know how much it costs to make and deploy one of those? The weapons came in from Iran. Typical Iraqis could not possibly have had the size caches we seized of those weapons after combat ops. Thousands upon thousands – just in our AO. You just can’t imagine the scope. The money doesn’t exist. These people don’t have it, and neither did the foreign fighters we killed, although the foreign fighters had better equipment than we did.”
He continued, “So do you think we finished the job?” “No,” I said. “We are leaving Iran empowered. We could have enjoined the covert war they declared against the U.S., but we refused to do it.” “I agree,” he replied, somewhat wistfully. And we continued to discuss the possibilities that even a small force in Iraq could accomplish with the will to do it at the senior administration level.
And now I find that the President is busy printing and spending trillions upon trillions of dollars and throwing it away on worthless projects, while the Vice President is busy attempting to raise the debt ceiling so that our children and children’s children can be impoverished and bankrupt, while we ignored Iraq and Iran, refusing even to invite the PM for a visit so that we could strong arm him and negotiate a new SOFA.
Children. Children in the White House, being led by a senior child, surrounded by children for policy advisers, being advised by children at think tanks who have absolutely no idea whatsoever of the ramifications of their counsel forward in time ( and who quote even more childish and un-serious think tanks for their sources).
Please, dear God, please, send someone serious to help these people. Gravitas, please?