Why US policy failed in Iraq

July 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A fascinating post at the Washington Post by Ali Khedery:

To understand why is imploding, you must understand Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and why the United States has supported him since 2006.

I have known Maliki, or Abu Isra, as he is known to people close to him, for more than a decade. I have traveled across three continents with him. I know his family and his inner circle. When Maliki was an obscure member of parliament, I was among the very few Americans in Baghdad who took his phone calls. In 2006, I helped introduce him to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister. In 2008, I organized his medevac when he fell ill, and I accompanied him for treatment in London, spending 18 hours a day with him at Wellington Hospital. In 2009, I lobbied skeptical regional royals to support Maliki’s government.

By 2010, however, I was urging the vice president of the United States and the White House senior staff to withdraw their support for Maliki. I had come to realize that if he remained in office, he would create a divisive, despotic and sectarian government that would rip the country apart and devastate American interests.

America stuck by Maliki. As a result, we now face strategic defeat in Iraq and perhaps in the broader Middle East.

Khedery argues that if the US has stopped supporting Maliki in 2010, then what has happened in the last few weeks may not have occured.

After the December 2005 parliamentary elections, U.S. Embassy officials combed the Iraqi elite for a leader who could crush the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, battle al-Qaeda, and unite Iraqis under the banner of nationalism and inclusive government. My colleague Jeffrey Beals and I were among the few Arabic-speaking Americans on good terms with the country’s leading figures. The only man we knew with any chance to win support from all Iraqi factions — and who seemed likely to be an effective leader — was Maliki. We argued that he would be acceptable to Iraq’s Shiite Islamists, around 50 percent of the population; that he was hard-working, decisive and largely free of corruption; and that he was politically weak and thus dependent on cooperating with other Iraqi leaders to hold together a coalition. 

Khedery says Maliki was the right pick in 2005, but then things went wrong:

With the Obama administration vowing to end Bush’s “dumb war,” and the continued distraction of the global economic crisis, Maliki seized an opportunity. He began a systematic campaign to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with his private office and his political party. He sacked professional generals and replaced them with those personally loyal to him. He coerced Iraq’s chief justice to bar some of his rivals from participating in the elections in March 2010. After the results were announced and Maliki lost to a moderate, pro-Western coalition encompassing all of Iraq’s major ethno-sectarian groups, the judge issued a ruling that awarded Maliki the first chance to form a government, ushering in more tensions and violence.

So he started to go rogue around 2009.

After helping to bring him to power in 2006, I argued in 2010 that Maliki had to go. I felt guilty lobbying against my friend Abu Isra, but this was not personal. Vital U.S. interests were on the line. Thousands of American and Iraqi lives had been lost and trillions of dollars had been spent to help advance our national security, not the ambitions of one man or one party. The constitutional process had to be safeguarded, and we needed a sophisticated, unifying, economics-minded leader to rebuild Iraq after the security-focused Maliki crushed the militias and al-Qaeda.

In conversations with visiting White House senior staff members, the ambassador, the generals and other colleagues, I suggested Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi as a successor. A former Baathist, moderate Shiite Islamist and French-educated economist who had served as finance minister, Abdul Mahdi maintained excellent relations with Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds as well as with Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

And how high up did the lobbying go?

On Sept. 1, 2010, Vice President Biden was in Baghdad for the change-of-command ceremony that would see the departure of Gen. Ray Odierno and the arrival of Gen. Lloyd Austin as commander of U.S. forces. That night, at a dinner at the ambassador’s residence that included Biden, his staff, the generals and senior embassy officials, I made a brief but impassioned argument against Maliki and for the need to respect the constitutional process. But the vice president said Maliki was the only option. Indeed, the following month he would tell top U.S. officials, “I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA,” referring to the status-of-forces agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq past 2011.

Biden was wrong, as he so often is.

But all the lobbying was for naught. By November, the White House had settled on its disastrous Iraq strategy. The Iraqi constitutional process and election results would be ignored, and America would throw its full support behind Maliki.

So they can’t say they were not warned. What happened next:

Within a short span, Maliki’s police state effectively purged most of them from politics, parking American-supplied M1A1 tanks outside the Sunni leaders’ homes before arresting them. Within hours of the withdrawal of U.S. forces in December 2011, Maliki sought the arrest of his longtime rival Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, eventually sentencing him to death in absentia. The purge of Finance Minister Rafea al-Essawi followed a year later.

So what are we left with:

In short, Maliki’s one-man, one-Dawa-party Iraq looks a lot like Hussein’s one-man, one-Baath Party Iraq. But at least Hussein helped contain a strategic American enemy: Iran. And Washington didn’t spend $1 trillion propping him up. There is not much “democracy” left if one man and one party with close links to Iran control the judiciary, police, army, intelligence services, oil revenue, treasury and the central bank. Under these circumstances, renewed ethno-sectarian civil war in Iraq was not a possibility. It was a certainty.

I resigned in protest on Dec. 31, 2010. 

If only they had listened to him. What happened was not inevitable after the fall of Saddam. It came about through bad decisions.

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52 Responses to “Why US policy failed in Iraq”

  1. Scott Chris (5,869 comments) says:

    So the guy who claims:

    I helped introduce him [Maliki] to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister.

    thinks America should trust his judgement when it comes to changing direction.

    And blames Joe Biden for the clusterfuck that he helped create.

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  2. kowtow (7,579 comments) says:

    American policy failed because it is naive to imagine any Arab Muslim state could ever be a successful democracy. It is as simple as that.

    Are there any successfull Muslim democracies ?

    Turkey is constantly bandied about but democracy there is a military dictated one,it doesn’t really exist.

    The Afghans can’t agree on their election outcome……after so many deaths and massive lose of funds to the west.

    Democracy comes from the people ,it’s not imported from the Washington elite.

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  3. Ryan Sproull (7,023 comments) says:

    In 2006, I helped introduce him to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister.

    Ah, representative democracy, America’s gift to the Iraqi people.

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  4. anonymouse (693 comments) says:

    In short, Maliki’s one-man, one-Dawa-party Iraq looks a lot like Hussein’s one-man, one-Baath Party Iraq

    Except that Saddam was the biggest baddest dog on the block and no one dared challenge him for fear of a deadly response,

    Maliki is simply a regional war lord, and the extent of his power will wax and wane as other potentially stronger leaders arise in other parts of the “country” currently ISIS are making a play, they may suceed, or they may fail, but they will not be the last.

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  5. MPH (17 comments) says:

    “What happened was not inevitable after the fall of Saddam. It came about through bad decisions.” Trying to prove a counter-factual based on what one guy, who is clearly implicated in the whole mess, says? Very unconvincing.

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  6. redqueen (448 comments) says:

    Good to see the Obama Administration did such a good job, per usual. Why are we trying to rekindle our alliance with these silly buggers, again? The fact that they still think in such terms, that they can interfere in the direction of foreign states, is absurd. That they’re so terrible at it has been repeated too many times. And we want to be ‘friends’?

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  7. dime (9,351 comments) says:

    The US didnt fail. They set out to cause chaos and turn iraq into an even bigger shithole and they succeeded.

    Arabs fighting arabs. No chance of them forming an EU type alliance for many a year. Success.

    Not saying its right, but its what they wanted.

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  8. ShawnLH (3,162 comments) says:

    Part of the problem is that the US is hamstrung by the Western idea that if it replaces a regime it must introduce democracy in order for regime change to be just. Note that this policy is less about exporting Americanism, than it is about having to appease Western liberals.

    Morocco has never been a problem, and is a fairly safe country for even Americans to travel in. Yet is has no real democracy, just more or less good government that does not tolerate extremists.

    The US needs to get back to doing what works, rather than appeasing liberal public opinion. The US got a lot of flack for supporting dictators or authoritarian governments in the ME, but it did so because they generally provide stability.

    I supported both operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, still do, but I was never on board with the idea that it had to establish democracy in those countries. This was a mistake, and it is not a role that armies are properly equipped to play.

    That central mistake aside, it is clear that the failure to respond adequately and stave of chaos lies at the feet of Odama’s admin. His weakness and prevaricating has been a disaster, and the faster he can be replaced by a Republican hawk the better.

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  9. Mr_Blobby (106 comments) says:

    US policy in Iraq failed….Can we have an example of a successful policy.

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  10. Mr_Blobby (106 comments) says:

    How about the US debt crisis.

    Borrow and print your way out of debt.

    Don’t let the inconvenient truth that it has never worked in the history of mankind get in the way.

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  11. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    Utter rubbish Shawn L H . !

    .The facts are the present disaster that is Iraq can entirely laid at the Bush administration who not only installed Maliki but as the author of the article demonstrates set in train since 2006 the timeline for withdrawal.
    All Obama has done is stick to that timeline .Plus GWB has left a huge gaping hole of debt trying to pay for a costly war, in terms of lives ( 4,000 soldiers killed ) and money , by using tax cuts and deficit funding.

    Two salient facts remain:

    No WMD were ever found. ( a prime pretext for the 2003 invasion )

    Saddam Hussein was never linked to the 9/11 attacks. ( another prime pretext ).

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  12. unaha-closp (1,111 comments) says:

    Most of Americas middle east policy is set in Riyadh.

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  13. ShawnLH (3,162 comments) says:

    “The facts are the present disaster that is Iraq can entirely laid at the Bush administration who not only installed Maliki”

    Who was fine at the time, and in fact fine until Obama’s disastrous decision to cut and run.

    “No WMD were ever found. ( a prime pretext for the 2003 invasion )”

    Hussein had months to get rid of whatever he did have.

    “Saddam Hussein was never linked to the 9/11 attacks. ( another prime pretext ).”

    Irrelevant. Hussein was an ongoing threat in the region, and getting rid of him made sense regardless of 911.

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  14. unaha-closp (1,111 comments) says:

    Utter rubbish Shawn L H . !

    .The facts are the present disaster that is Iraq can entirely laid at the Bush administration who not only installed Maliki but as the author of the article demonstrates set in train since 2006 the timeline for withdrawal.

    If a week is a long time ion politics, what is 6 years?

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  15. All_on_Red (1,331 comments) says:

    ” no WMDs were found”
    Tell that to the Syrians. Oh and Iraq aside, Biden is a complete moron. And Obama completely incompetent.

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  16. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    unaha-closp, actually that is utterly untrue.The US in fact imports little oil from the Middle East. It Primary sources are the Western Hemisphere ( Venezuela, Mexico and Canada ) and Nigeria.

    BTW the Maliki government actually awarded practically all its major oil concessions to Chinese consortiums.

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  17. tom hunter (4,366 comments) says:

    The net should be cast a bit wider because we now have three different models of US policy failure in the Middle East:

    - Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US conducted full-blown invasions, that toppled a dictator and a totalitarian theocracy respectively and enabled elections – which have now turned to shit.

    - Libya, where the US toppled a dictator by airpower alone, led from behind, and resulted in a situation that has now turned to shit.

    - Syria, where the US refused to intervene in any meaningful way to overthrow a dictator, resulting in situation that has now turned to shit.

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  18. mister nui (957 comments) says:

    WW3 is on it’s way.

    The muslims are set to bomb everything to hell – they will be met with an almighty response, but it will take the West sometime to finds its balls.

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  19. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    Shawn LH,

    Wrong on all accounts. Obama did not cut and run. All he did was to implement the Bush time table for withdrawal.

    Sadaam had months to get rid of his WMD.

    Evidence of this and oh how very convenient,!!?

    http://www.ipsnews.net/2003/07/politics-us-key-officials-used-9-11-as-pretext-for-iraq-war/

    Chemical weapons and manufacturing facilities were actually found, but surprise, surprise, supplied originally courtesy of the US .

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-153210/Rumsfeld-helped-Iraq-chemical-weapons.html

    If he was an ongoing threat why not invade prior to 9/11. ?

    Why the wait .??

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  20. All_on_Red (1,331 comments) says:

    Stephie
    The French got a lot of the oil too. Bush’s timetable for withdrawal was dictated by political pressures. He really should have ignored it an stayed. They are making the same mistake in Afghanistan .

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  21. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    Tom Hunter,

    Correction there.

    The US did not invade Libya. UN Resolution 1973 sanctioned it with Russia and China abstaining. The “invasion” consisted of primarily NATO airstrikes in support of the insurgents.

    Now Syria could of been an entirely different scenario without this time around but for the Russia and China’s veto. One could shudder and think if they applied the same veto to Libya.

    All on Red, what political pressure precisely.???
    Are you suggesting that the US stays in Afghanistan indefinitely .?

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  22. fernglas (99 comments) says:

    The Americans are incapable of appointing a decent head of state to govern the US, so what made them think they could do any better in Iraq?

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  23. Tautaioleua (281 comments) says:

    It failed because they literally handpicked Iraqis who were sympathetic to the US and made them politicians overnight. Many had no public profile among ordinary Iraqis, others were known for all the wrong reasons (corruption, greed, violence, etc). There was no consideration for the different ethnic-religious groups who would never yield to the other. Some of the most suitable politicians were ignored because they opposed the US handling of the situation.

    The US threw the UN under the bus, and thought they could handle Iraq all on their own. How do you blow $3 trillion dollars in a fucking desert?

    I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords.

    :-)

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  24. Ed Snack (1,733 comments) says:

    Jesus Stephieboy, you need to get a wider view than the one from up Obama’s backside. Iraq’s descent into chaos is entirely down to Obama’s “smart diplomacy”. The man’s a complete incompetent, but I’m sure you’ll understand that it’s not really his fault, because he’s “black” nothing’s his fault, really. It’s just all us racists who insist on judging him by his actual results who are to blame, isn’t it.

    If Obama had worked on finding a way to leave a reasonable force in Iraq to continue training and to give them some leverage to control Maliki, then the coalition that was built during the surge to make Iraq manageable would not have fallen apart under Maliki’s sectarianism. But it’s too late now, and that is entirely down to Obama/Biden/Clinton/Kerry and their crony capitalist bunch of advisors. But it is a win for them personally, there’s a whole bunch of useful idiots who will blame Bush and exonerate Obama regardless of the facts.

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  25. mikenmild (10,598 comments) says:

    How could Obama have left forces in Iraq when the Iraqi government was determined that they should withdraw?

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  26. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    . Ed Snack..

    “..blame Bush and exonerate Obama regardless of the facts.”

    What facts actually .???.

    But hey !, what can we expert from a Birther fan boy.!

    http://www.salon.com/2011/10/21/about_that_iraq_withdrawal/

    +++,

    http://www.salon.com/2007/09/06/bush_wmd/

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  27. tom hunter (4,366 comments) says:

    The facts are the present disaster that is Iraq can entirely laid at the Bush administration

    You pathetic, partisan moron.

    But there is this for a chuckle: George W. Bush really should step down after six terms in office:

    We do often forget the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. While concentrating on Iraq and the Balkans, the Bush administration failed to recognize the threat posed by al-Qaeda, and missed repeated opportunities to capture or kill al-Qaeda leadership, including in particular Usama bin Laden. As the buildup to war continued, powerful Republicans in the Senate — Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Hillary Clinton among them — pushed the government to act on the Iraq Liberation Act and take military action against Iraq.

    For an even bigger chuckle there’s this non-fictional video history: Democrats before the war started …..

    All the usual suspects are there, including Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John Kerry, who are still in positions of power, and of course …. Hilary Clinton, for whom Stephieboy will soon be tub-thumping here on Kiwiblog. Other KB readers have about twelve more months of being called racists as Stephieboy defends the Smartest President Evah, before he switches to full War On Women mode and starts crying “misogyny.”

    Idiot.

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  28. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    tom hunter,

    Churlish as per usual.

    Grow up.!

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  29. Fentex (854 comments) says:

    To understand why Iraq is imploding, you must understand Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

    Bollocks. The U.S.A invaded, conquered Iraq and systematically destroyed it’s civil society then actively divided it into sectarian divisions while attempting to pick and fund one group as it’s loyal subjects.

    That is why Iraq is no longer a cohesive country. It really isn’t that important which bad choice the U.S made for a puppet, the having broken Iraq up and tried to rule through proxy is the original sin that al-Maliki is just one consequence of.

    It is true that al-Maliki is a damaging sectarian leader of Shiites purposefully alienating Sunnis and of no use if resolving tensions between the factions – but that’s not the thing that caused Iraq to implode, it’s one of the symptoms of the disease.

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  30. Manolo (13,301 comments) says:

    Well said, that man (tom hunter)!

    Stephieboy is learning how to defending Mrs Clinton, once his Messiah folds his tent.

    The King is dead, long live the Queen, says the illiberal and callow youngster.

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  31. mister nui (957 comments) says:

    Stephie, you’re wrong on the oil once again.

    The major operators in Iraq, by volume, are;
    Exxon – US (1,395,000 bopd)
    Lukoil – Russian (1,350,000)
    CNPC – Chinese (1,169,000)
    BP – British (1,068,750)
    Petronas – Malaysian (880,000)
    Shell – Dutch (802,000)
    ENI – Italian (450,000)

    So how the fuck that is “practically all” concessions awarded to the Chinese, I’m buggered if I know.

    And you’re also wrong on the supply of most US oil….
    Canada is first by a long margin on ~95,000,000 barrels, then the Saudis, on 45,000,000, then daylight, then finally Venezuela on 25,000,000. The total imports from the Middle East are approx. 60,000,000, more than double Venezuela.

    Why make shit up, when there are people here a lot smarter than you who do know what they’re talking about.

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  32. tom hunter (4,366 comments) says:

    The US did not invade Libya.

    I never said they did. My exact words were where the US toppled a dictator by airpower alone. And I said this as a way of pointing out that it was a second method of toppling a dictator – one boasted about at the time by Obama supporters as being the way this sort of thing should be done rather than the boots-on-the-ground blundering of the Texas cowboy.

    Idiot.

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  33. All_on_Red (1,331 comments) says:

    Stephie
    They probably had to stay for quite a lot longer and maintain a presence indefinitely. So pretty much yes.That’s the problem when you invade someone. When you leave your enemy just retakes the ground. I could go into more detail on the strategic foolishness of leaving and how why the “surge” worked meant they should have stayed but it might be easier if you just read “The Prince” by Machiavelli. It’s a good treatise on how to conquer ” States”.
    And yes, Bush had a lot of political pressure stirred up and applied to him about when the US would leave. Hardly surprising.

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  34. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    tom hunter, please don’t play the semantics game . The inference is there and the facts are the air attacks were sanctioned by UN Resolution 1973 using NATO airpower provided principally by Britain and France.
    Not the US.
    The rest of your post is a rambling shambles of a tirade.
    Calm down before you totally lose it and implode .!

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  35. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    All on Red,

    More about those political pressures,? From the GOP right.,??

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  36. Manolo (13,301 comments) says:

    @stephieboy: I expect you to emulate your new idol and say: What difference does it make?
    It will not be long.

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  37. All_on_Red (1,331 comments) says:

    Damn, edit won’t work. The Americans always stuff their wars up by letting politics soften their resolve. If they had stayed and prevented Maliki reverting to type, I’d wager Iraq would be a success. They should have kept troops in every neighbourhood once they had killed the terrorists. The public grew to like the security. Yes, basically armed neighbourhood watch.They are making the same mistake in Afghanistan. The Taliban will be back as soon as the last Humvee is gone.
    The same with Vietnam. They should have cut off all supply to the South by bombing the shit out of Haiphong harbour and Hanoi right at the start. That war , sorry police action, was winnable.

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  38. All_on_Red (1,331 comments) says:

    Stephie
    From the media and the left. Do some research

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  39. tom hunter (4,366 comments) says:

    Churlish as per usual.

    The rest of your post is a rambling shambles of a tirade.

    Calm down before you totally lose it and implode .!

    Muhahahahaha

    Shorter Stephieboy – I’ve run out of talking point soundbites: help me RationalWiki and Mediamatters, you’re my only hope

    Idiot :)

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  40. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    All on Red,

    In other words bomb them all back to the stone age.?!

    Interesting perspective on how to run foreign policy.

    Sure to find some sympathy with Manolo, Tom Hunter and Ed Snack.

    Tom Hunter and you Fox News , WND, Breibart,, Infowars and other kinds of far right insanity.!

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  41. Scott Hamilton (278 comments) says:

    According to All on Red ‘the media and the left’ are to blame for the failure of the US mission in Iraq. He seems to have forgotten the sad fact that some of the most vociferous media voices for the invasion of Iraq, Christopher Hitchens, Norm Geras, David Aaronovitch – came from the left. Understandably, the pro-war left is rather thin on the ground now, but it was, in the UK and the US especially, quite visible in 2002-2003:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2006/04/peculiarities-of-pro-war-left.html

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  42. Feanor (40 comments) says:

    There are people here still insisting that Iraq had WMDs? That’s just precious.

    And thew new narrative is that the situation Iraq is all Obama’s fault. Funny what was being said on this blog just a few years ago.

    ——

    The US military presence in Iraq stands at about 40,000. All US troops are to exit the country under a deal struck between the countries in 2008 when George W. Bush was president.

    It is worth stressing that it was indeed Bush who put an end date to US troops. Obama merely moved it forward a few months. However he had the responsibility to stay committed to his timetable, which he has done.

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  43. All_on_Red (1,331 comments) says:

    Ah no Stephie
    Just bomb the ships, the wharfs,the railway lines etc. you know the means of SUPPLY.
    You’re not very bright are you.

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  44. ShawnLH (3,162 comments) says:

    “Wrong on all accounts. Obama did not cut and run. All he did was to implement the Bush time table for withdrawal.”

    Crap Stephie. Bush’s timetable was flexible and based on what the facts were on the ground. Obama accelerated that and ignored the facts on the ground.

    “Sadaam had months to get rid of his WMD.

    Evidence of this and oh how very convenient,!!?”

    Any evidence that he didn’t? How do you know? After 911 I’m not interested in playing it cautious. The best defense is a strong offense.

    “If he was an ongoing threat why not invade prior to 9/11. ?

    Why the wait .??”

    Because we had another weal, Liberal President in power. Clinton.

    The lesson: Liberal Democrats suck.

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  45. ShawnLH (3,162 comments) says:

    Obama has dropped the ball on foriegn policy because he’s weak. because he is driven by a naive Liberal worldview that ignores human nature and the reality of power politics, and because he’s too busy spending America into a mountain of debt, apologizing to the Islamic world, throwing Israel under the bus, and appeasing the rainbow lobby.

    The US is in the fight of it’s life and Obama’s priority is bloody gay marriage.

    Total and utter failure. Cannot wait for his ass to be turfed out.

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  46. CharlieBrown (889 comments) says:

    Just goes to show that the Western world is full of parliamentary democratic fanatics. We are prepared to kill to allow the majority to vote in people once every few years to take from others and give to them.

    If you don’t believe in democracy it must be quite chilling.

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  47. stephieboy (2,128 comments) says:

    ‘The lesson: Liberal Democrats suck.”

    Pathetic.!

    Clinton Prez 2001 pre 9/11.?

    Did the GOP under Clinton have a policy of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam.???

    Accelerated withdrawal .?? Evidence,??

    Invade a country based on a surmise or a big maybe.?

    Interesting basis for foreign policy development and implementation .!

    Inspired by Collin Craig or Sarah Palin.??

    Actually Charlie Brown democratic principles like representative government and free speech are worth goals to advance or do you prefer living in the dark under e.g the Taliban or ISIS.?

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  48. CharlieBrown (889 comments) says:

    Stephieboy – We don’t live in a democracy, we vote in mp’s once every 3 years largely based on where you live.

    Parliamentary democracy isn’t the only way, one party states can work as well, although I wouldn’t want one. Non-muslims in muslim countries sure as hell wouldn’t like our form of government. Remember in many democracies, it is illegal to leave islam (punnishable by death), it is still illegal to be gay. Democracy is used as an excuse by the majority to persecute the minority (Germany 1933 anyone?).

    I would much rather live in a country where individual liberty is paramount with the government only providing policing and defense. Even if that meant I lost the right to vote once every three years.

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  49. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    stephieboy:If he was an ongoing threat why not invade prior to 9/11. ?

    Because of political risk-benefit calculations. It had been clear by the late 90s that the containment strategy for dealing with Saddam wasn’t a viable long term solution and that someone at some point was going to have to make some tough decisions and deal with him. A coup, replacing Saddam with someone who could hold the country together but wasn’t as vile would have been nice but wasn’t going to happen. That left the military option as the only other way of dealing with him, but people were reluctant to go down that path especially if they could defer that option to the next administration.

    This changed after 9/11 because it demonstrated that the containment strategy wasn’t just causing problems in the middle east but it was reaching out and killing Americans in their own country, and that he risks of leaving Saddam in power were much higher than had been previously thought.

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  50. BlairM (2,286 comments) says:

    The model for reforming a conquered state is Japan. None of this democracy nonsense. Rewrite the constitution – get rid of all the Islamic and totalitarian crap, and impose it on them by fiat. Wait four years before granting them electons. Then let them get on with it. America’s mistate was valuing “Democracy” above all else. No. The Western values come first, always. Is Iraq safer for women than it was under Saddam? Is it safer for Christians than it was under Saddam? If the answer is no, then America has failed, and they must fix what they broke.

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  51. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    from Aussie yesterday and worth a read.

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/christian-army-officer-bernie-gaynor-pays-the-price-for-marching-out-of-step-with-top-generals-20140709-zt1iq.html

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  52. V (668 comments) says:

    Its what you get with a community organiser in charge.

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