Whether or not we left Iraq too quickly is irrelevant, we should not have been there in the first place. Saddam Hussein was a terrible human being, no doubt. However, as horrible as he was, he did keep the region from exploding into the kind of chaos that we see now. The problem that we are facing now with ISIS is one of our own making, and it absolutely fair to blame this on the Bush Administration.
Since WWII, and even before that, the United States has had a very bad habit of sticking our hands into foreign affairs where we really don’t belong. And yet, every single time one of our freedom and democracy experiments blows up in our faces, we act surprised that after bombing a country into the Stone Age and propping up a new government, for some reason the whole thing falls apart.
We propped up a dictator in Iran, and as a result, an Islamic revolutionary group took over. To get our hostages released, we ended up being involved with even more shady dealings which we now know as the Iran-Contra Affair. This is just one example of the countless times over the past few decades where the United States has meddled in the affairs of other countries, with disastrous results that include creating new terrorist groups. Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden? We can thank our funding of the mujahideen in our proxy war against Russia during the 1980s in Afghanistan.
It seems like we never learn our lesson and Iraq is a prime example of that. Now, we are being drawn back in for humanitarian reasons and the conservative talking point that we’re seeing over and over again is that President Obama is to blame because he pulled out too quickly. Some “firebagger” liberals are complaining that he’s just like Bush when it comes to war. There’s a few problems with these utterly false statements.
For one thing, President Bush is responsible for Iraq, not President Obama. Members of the Bush Administration were allegedly pushing for this war at least as far back as 1997 and there is a lawsuit now working its way through the court system against them. The Bush Administration also sacrificed nearly 4,500 members of our military to create the clusterfuck that is now Iraq. Think about it; we were sold a war in Iraq as part of a response to 9/11 at the cost of the lives of one and a half times more soldiers than civilians who lost their lives on that terrifying September morning in 2001. As of this publication, we’ve also lost 2,340 soldiers to the Afghanistan conflict.
Also, the difference between Bush and Obama is that President Bush had no problem launching massive ground wars instead of small, surgical actions like Libya or the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden that President Obama has authorized.
The wars Obama supports tend to have heavy humanitarian components and very limited aims. It’s no accident that he brought Samantha Power, author of the seminal book on the world’s repeated failures to stop genocide, into his administration, where she now serves as UN Ambassador.
This is the tension in Obama’s foreign policy: he wants to stop terrible things from happening. But he doesn’t want to make the open-ended commitments that are often necessary to stop them from happening. The result is that he often defines the terrible thing very narrowly in order to launch a war that won’t spiral out of control. (Source)
There’s also the fact that despite everything Fox News and the mindless drones who follow them want to say, it was President Bush who signed off on the agreement that dictated the timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. In fact, some conservative pages were quite upset back in 2010-2011 at any credit being given to President Obama for ending the conflict, but now that ISIS is threatening to take the place over, suddenly it’s his fault – not Bush.
We must learn from Iraq and the ISIS crisis that in foreign policy, the law of unintended consequences often comes into play, and with negative outcomes. We should use this as a learning experience and remember it the next time any politician pushes for military intervention in a conflict that isn’t strictly limited to narrow, humanitarian grounds.