Remember when Iraq was hailed as an Obama success story?
Last week, President Obama blamed the current mess in Iraq, and the growth of ISIS, on the 2003 invasion. His remarks were unchallenged by the interviewer but that's nothing new for the in-the-tank news media.
Perhaps, a better interviewer would reminded President Obama of what VP Biden said not long ago in 2010. We remember when VP Biden was saying that Iraq would go down as an Obama success story:
Vice President Joe Biden said after a three-day trip to Baghdad that the American people will see President Barack Obama’s Iraq policy as a success when the “combat mission” ends on schedule Aug. 31. Biden said the administration “will be able to point to it and say, ‘We told you what we’re going to do, and we did it.’”
“I think America wins,” Biden told POLITICO in an end-of-trip interview at the ambassador’s residence in the sprawling U.S. Embassy complex. “I sound corny, but I think America gets credit here in the region. And I think everybody gets credit, from George Bush to [President Obama].
VP Biden was right and wrong.
He was right that US soldiers, under the able General Petraeus, stabilized the country in 2007-08 under the surge. In other words, the Obama-Biden administration was handed a stable Iraq because of President Bush's leadership and, we repeat, the amazing work of US soldiers. We are not saying that an Iraqi version of Madison was drafting a new constitution. At the same time, the country was stable and violence was the exception.
VP Biden turned out to be wrong when the Iraq policy was politicized to satisfy a stupid campaign promise.
The net result was that a vacuum was created and bad guys were willing to fill it.
It's a shame that President Obama did not listen to Secretary Panetta:
"It was clear to me--and many others--that withdrawing all our forces would endanger the fragile stability then barely holding Iraq together," Panetta writes in the book, an excerpt of which was published on Time.com this week.
To be fair, leaving a force was not the magic bullet. However, leaving a vacuum, plus projecting weakness and drawing meaningless red lines, also contributed to the complete chaos from Yemen to everywhere else in the region.
Iraq was a success story in the summer of 2010. It is not today and we can lay the blame on President Obama's desk.