Obama Snatched Ramadi Defeat from Bush Victory

The White House description of the fall of Ramadi to ISIS forces we have supposedly been busy degrading and destroying as a “setback” is like the British calling Dunkirk in World War II a strategic withdrawal. Ramadi is a defeat, the result of the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by President Obama against the advice of military minds who know better about these things than the former community organizer from Illinois.

It is a defeat for President Obama’s foreign policy, a rebuke of his fundamental transformation of America’s role in the world from a leader who shaped events to one of treating foreign affairs as a spectator sport, with the U.S. “leading from behind” and being left behind in the process.

Critics of our role in Iraq offer the chaos in Iraq as a rebuke of President George W. Bush’s decision to topple the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, a regime that had used weapons of mass destruction against Iran in its war with its equally belligerent neighbor, and which had used these weapons against its own people at Halabja. The successful defeat of Saddam Hussein and liberation of Iraq was done at great expense in lives and treasure.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit recalls both our sacrifice and our victory in Ira under President George W. Bush:

The United State lost 1,335 soldiers in Anbar Province during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Another 8,205 soldiers were injured in fighting in Anbar.

More US soldiers and Marines were lost in Anbar than any other Iraqi province.

By 2008, thanks to the successful Bush Troop Surge in Iraq, the insurgents had been marginalized in Anbar. With insurgents “on the run” in western Anbar province, the US was able to draw down forces in area.

But that all changed in 2011 when Barack Obama withdrew all US troops from Iraq. By 2014 ISIS had retaken Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, and more recently Ramadi.

President Bush left a stable Iraq, one where Shiite and Sunnis had learned to coexist and resist a common al-Qaida enemy. There were free and fair elections and we all remember the pictures of Iraqi women holding up their purple fingers indicating they had proudly voted in those elections. Now we have the mass graves of ISIS, beheadings and what can only be called the ethnic cleansing of Christians.

It is a myth, as the White House now claims, that President Obama inherited an Iraqi mess from President Bush and had no choice but to withdraw U.S. troops in the absence of a status of forces agreement. The problem was not that Iraq and Prime Minister Maliki wanted the U.S. to leave, but that the force Obama wanted to leave was just too small. As Patrick Brennan has written in National Review:

These claims don’t jibe with what we know about how the negotiations with Iraq went. It’s the White House itself that decided just 2–3,000 troops made sense, when the Defense Department and others were proposing more. Maliki was willing to accept a deal with U.S. forces if it was worth it to him -- the problem was that the Obama administration wanted a small force so that it could say it had ended the war. Having a very small American force wasn’t worth the domestic political price Maliki would have to pay for supporting their presence. In other words, it’s not correct that “the al-Maliki government wanted American troops to leave.

President Obama just wanted to get out of Iraq and he offered a deal he knew the Iraqis could and would refuse. As proof of the alleged failure of the Bush policy, pundits and Obama administration defenders offer the fact that Iraqi forces at Ramadi and elsewhere are prone to cutting and running and if Iraq couldn’t defend itself without a U.S. residual presence, so be it.

Yet the Obama administration does not explain why leaving 10,000 troops behind as a security guarantee and backup would have been a bad thing. We still have troops in Germany, South Korea, and Japan. Can’t these nations defend themselves? NATO was formed because European forces couldn’t direct traffic in Paris in August without U.S. help then or even now.

If we had left 10,000 troops, we wouldn’t have watched the black flags of ISIS being raised over Fallujah, Ramadi, and other Iraqi cities U.S. troops died and were maimed to liberate. ISIS merely filled the power vacuum President Obama created for political reasons. Then, as Investor’s Business Daily noted last September, President Obama calmly watched ISIS rise from obscurity and did nothing to stop it:

Reports that Barack Obama received detailed information on the virulent Islamic State terror group in his daily briefings for over a year and did nothing makes him officially our "being there" president.

Leading from behind once again, as he flew to Estonia to draw a red line that Russia shouldn't cross after it finishes gobbling up Ukraine, President Obama told reporters, "We will not be intimidated" by the second beheading of an American journalist and warned that we would "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State.

Degrade? Degrading has been the foreign policy of a president who recently said that he didn't have a strategy yet for dealing with the Islamic State's butchery after watching it train and prepare for a year in its Syrian base before its "sudden" expansion into Iraq.

The fall of Ramadi is the poster child for the Obama administration’s foreign policy failures that has left failed states from Libya to Yemen to Iraq. It is he who snatched defeat in Iraq from the jaws of Bush’s victory.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.             

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