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President Obama Isn’t Responsible For ISIS Or Leaving Iraq

Image courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

Image courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

It was announced yesterday that President Obama had authorized the use of air strikes against ISIS in Iraq. As usual, I made the mistake of reading the comments on our local news station, KATC. The remarks ranged from blaming President Obama for withdrawing from Iraq too soon, to the usual questioning of his birth certificate, as well as comments suggesting impeachment or that he was a secret Muslim.

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.


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Manny Schewitz is a progressive from the Dirty South with an inclination to say it like it is. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, author of the Kvetching with Manny column, and an unapologetic Bernie Sanders supporter. Manny also maintains an active presence on Facebook, and you can follow him on Twitter as well. Be sure to check out Manny's archives on Forward Progressives for more of his viewpoints.
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  • Pipercat

    Today’s special, “Freedom Fries” are on the house!

  • DavidD

    We cannot control events we can only react to them with intelligence,careful thought and getting all the information we can before acting.
    The contrast between President Obama and President Bush could not be greater in situations like this.

  • Gary Menten

    The mess in Iraq is Bush’s mess, period.

    1. The U.S. had no legitimate reason for invading. The WMD Bush claimed Saddam possessed did not exist and there is not one shred of evidence he had any ties to al-Qaeda. There were no Jihadis in Iraq whatsoever until Bush invaded it.

    2. Bush and his national security team thought “Regime Change” would be easy and made no real plans for a post-war Iraq, though they sold themselves (and many Americans) on the idiot notion that a post Saddam Iraq would become a beacon for democracy in the region….hahahahahaha.

    3. They mismanaged the war, effectively using air power (shock and awe) to destroy power plants all over the country, as though they weren’t going to have to occupy and rebuild the place afterwards. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Destroying all those power plants did not speed up the advance against Baghdad one bit, but it sure made the post war occupation much harder.

    4. They purged all the former Baathists from the army or civil service, meaning that they not sacked everyone who knew anything about running the country, not only guaranteeing chaos, but creating a ready-made, angry insurgency in a country where there were huge stockpiles of conventional weapons and ammunition lying around–too many for the small invasion force to seize–further worsening the situation.

    Basically, through their complete incompetence and delusional notions that they were actually liberating Iraqis, the Bush team completely broke the country into a million pieces and then ground those pieces into dust, killing tens of thousands of innocent people in the process.

  • Duke Rourschach

    But Obama should own up the the Fact that He supplied Arms,Money,Intelligence,and Air support to ISIS and Syrian rebels that Gave them all they needed to take over Syria and invade Iraq and set up a Caliphate! Yes Bush was an Idiot but he’s over and gone has no hand in Syria! What is Obamas share of responsibility in providing them support and not having a plan when it came back to bite us. We shouldn’t be giving anything to any of these Moderates or Extremest our any Jihadis!

    • Brian

      Can you prove Obama supplied arms to these exact Syrians? And ISIS did not exist until recently, it was ISIL before. You realize that there are dozens of Syrian rebel groups fighting each other in addition to the government of Syria? The US government has not been providing very much in the way of arms to most of them, and the ones they do provide arms to have nothing to with ISIS.
      The American weapons that ISIS is acquiring were captured from Iraqi military armouries which were left behind as Iraqi army forces retreated.

      • Duke Rourschach

        Joining several other Security Contractors throughout the World made a Plea to Obama to stop any funding of ANY group with ANY Ties to Muslim Extremism not only in Syria But Lybia as well Because you have to Understand the culture of Muslim Extremest Moderates ect. They have Loyalty to ONE THING aka Allah and their entire goal is to Convert EVERYONE and if you think they are not smart enough to Attack America directly your Wrong and they will use deception to meet those ends and is exactly what they are doing. Obama is to inexperienced to see this fact and it’s getting Thousands killed daily. He gave them Arms and help with the goal of being humanitarian and sympathetic to Suffering he should have giving Medical and nutritional support to Syrian people but in no instance should Destructive weapons get to the Jihadis cause they know exactly how to Fool people that want to help with good intentions and it was on Obamas part good intentions but Bad ability to judge Malice in an Enemy that we know can Not be trusted and has Killed American soldiers,civilians,and anyone else Not Muslim!

      • Duke Rourschach

        Also Brian it’s irrelevant who He supplied Weapons to its not the Who but What did he supply them to! In the Context of Conflict Obama as C&C Must make decisions in the best interests of the U.S. Especially the Safety of U.S citizens Everywhere and must keep his obligations and promises to country’s under the Wing of our protection and to which We are Fostering their New Democracies We created and nurture! ALL these factions,Rebels, moderates,Extremists and whatever they are called cannot be viewed as separate at the end of the day they are ALL Muslim Fighters and they appear separate only as a tactic to Increase the likelihood that those they can benefit most from, can see some kind of common trait that will put sympathizers at ease (make your enemy your friend) and allow them to Exploit that trust as thorough as possible! These guys top priority is Deception and they Prayed on President Obama and Millions of Americans,Europeans, and Decent Muslims to procure Weapons,Financing,Intel, and Hearts and minds of People just wanting to Help. This is Jihad 101 and they have gotten very good at it. I’m not demonizing Obama quite the opposite I’m merely saying that He was tricked into doing the right thing in his mind and it went haywire He just needs to address it instead of avoiding it

  • Matthew Reece

    Obama left American military hardware in Iraq, without which ISIS would be far less of a problem. In that regard, this is his fault.

  • WHF

    1. In 2012 Obama claimed that terrorism was on the decline because he got Osama bin Ladin.

    2. In 2008, Obama campaigned on the PROMISE that he would end the war in Iraq. Please remember this important fact, the war against Iraq was over in 2003. What happened beyond that was a war against terrorism and the different groups within Iraq.

    3. You liberals claim that GWB misled the country on WMD’s. You seem to forget that the intelligence showed WMD’s prior to GWB being in office. Does anyone remember “Operation Desert Fox”?

    4. Yes GWB did sign the agreement to get us out. But he was against it when the democrats who were in control of congress passed a Bill to get us out, which he vetoed. GWB was getting hammered by the media and the left to get us out. Iraq wanted us out. Yes GWB signed the agreement, but Obama did not have to follow the agreement which Obama did to the detail. If Obama was smart, which the left claim he is the smartest man in the world, he could have told Iraq, nope not going to do it. But he ran on the premise he old end the war and bring our troops home.

    For those reasons I put the blame on the democrats and on Obama. I do blame GWB for caving in on the pressure

    • Duke Rourschach

      Precisely! Plus Dems and Progressives still Blaming Bush is starting to Make them look a little lost is that the only thing they can revert to? If All other arguments fail Blame Bush come on Really that’s the Best they can do? And they think they can run the country better! Insanity at its purest “Hi my name is Earth! Have we met?

  • Joe the Drummer

    Listen closely you irrelevant “progressives”.. people are laughing at you every time you sweep up Obama’s trash and blame Bush. Is that really all you have left in your arsenal??

    Blah blah blah, “It’s not Obama’s fault!” blah blah blah… It’s Bush’s fault! blah blah blah.. Bush got us there in the first place.. blah blah blah so Obama can do no wrong.. blah blah.. Bush is still to blame after Obama has been in office for 6+ years…blah blah…

    Man I have heard that crap every time Obama screws something up.. It’s a good thing that every time Obama makes a world shattering blunder, tools like you will rush in to save his “legacy”.

    This is pathetic and backward thinking, not progressive. It shows how you and your friends avoid responsibility for your actions at every turn. The whole world can see your folly with the exception of you. Man up. Stop pointing the finger at others. Clean up the trash you make.

    Stop making excuses for this naive president already. Come up with a different excuse and rewrite this article.